While his absence has been upsetting for Kansas football fans, redshirting Jalon Daniels would not solve his ongoing injury situation.
I get it. I really do. Absolutely NOBODY is happy about the Jalon Daniels injury situation.
The Preseason Big 12 Player of the Year was supposed to be fine after he missed Week 1 against Missouri State in the season opener. He played terrific football in the subsequent games, leading the Jayhawks to three wins in as many games. Then, less than an hour before the road showdown versus Texas, it was announced his back injury was lingering and he wouldn’t be available to play.
In the following weeks, fans have heard it all. “He’s only missing one week!” or “We’ll see him play after the bye!” And despite all of this, we’re 15 days away from the regular season’s end, and Daniels isn’t practicing or traveling with the team on road trips.
So if you clicked on this article, you’re probably as frustrated as me. I mean, I LOVE watching Jalon Daniels take the field. Who doesn’t? He’s electric. You can’t name me ten better quarterbacks in the nation when he’s 100%. To say that about a player at the University of Kansas seems unreal considering where the program has been over the past decade and a half.
Unfortunately, Jalon has been receiving a lot of hate from the KU fanbase. Unwarranted hate, might I add. He’s a helluva player and an even better guy. Back injuries can be debilitating, and he’s doing everything he can to get back on the gridiron. But right now, it looks like his efforts won’t be enough to return in 2023.
Which raises the question for Kansas football fans: Why can’t he just redshirt if he’s eligible to do so? As long as a player appears in four or fewer games in a singular season, he’s eligible to redshirt. Right now, he’s played three, so he could hypothetically play in KU’s bowl game AND secure an additional year of eligibility.
However, it’s just not going to happen.
Redshirting would kill his confidence. He is the team’s starting quarterback when healthy, despite Jason Bean’s terrific play recently, and unless he undergoes some sort of season-ending surgery, placing a redshirt would suggest the team isn’t confident in him or his ability to return in 2023.
And for the real, real reason Jalon Daniels won’t be redshirting: He wasn’t going to stay at Kansas for more than one season regardless.
Why do you think Lance Leipold continues to tell the media that he won’t be redshirting? It’s not because he thinks his injury will magically disappear. The reality is that Jalon is going pro after 2024 at the latest. Because he played in the 2020 COVID-19 season, he already has another year of eligibility. Whether you think he is an NFL-caliber quarterback is a different story, but if he continued to play well and was healthy this year, he probably would have been a late-round draft choice in the spring.
Every player’s ultimate goal is to make it to the next level. Jalon has proved to scouts that he has the talent. All he needs is a healthy season to prove he has the durability. Unless the back injury is going to alter his career — which shouldn’t technically be ruled out yet — Kansas football fans shouldn’t expect Jalon Daniels to redshirt, nor should they criticize him for something he can’t control.