Jalon Daniels came into the year winning preseason Big 12 Player of the Year as a Heisman Trophy hopeful. The Kansas football signal-caller has been relatively quiet about the back injury that forced him to miss 10 of 13 games during the Kansas football season, but he finally provided some insight on what held him out.
The California native hopped on Pucker Up recently, a show series founded and hosted by social media star Joely Live. Daniels was a guest in the episode and answered several questions Jayhawk fans have been searching for the answer to since September.
He had to progress through six types of sour candies, being asked a new question whenever he advanced the round. As 'Level 6' of the challenge approached — the sourest of the candies — Joely asked the hardest-hitting question yet.
"You did get hurt this last season, and you did miss quite a few games. So, for everybody wondering, what is the injury update? Are you going to play next season, and what is your on the whole situation?"
He confirmed once again he would return to the Kansas football program in 2024 and plans to start. Doctors have spoken to him and believe his injury will subside over time, and Daniels has already begun jogging and taking part in drills. He went over a timeline of his lingering ailment in the interview.
In short, Daniels explained that the injury began in fall camp — not from a hit or specific play, but rather the repetitive motion of throwing the football. The pain was on and off, but he wanted more than anything to get back onto the field, so he appeared in the contest against Illinois in Week 2 despite not being 100% healthy.
He would start the next two games versus Nevada and BYU, leading the Jayhawks to a pair of victories. During the week of the highly anticipated meeting in Austin, Texas, he said he felt better than ever and was supposed to start, but he felt something was wrong a few hours before kickoff and was a late scratch.
"And it was kind of crazy, because the first time I felt something was the day of the Texas game in the morning," he stated. "I forgot what we were doing, but I ended up telling the trainers like, something's not right... So I did a few throws and I'm just like, nah, this is off."
"After I warmed up, I went inside the locker room and just fell. I couldn't feel anything. All I felt was pain," Daniels recalled. "It felt like someone was stabbing me, like something was going down my entire leg. And it's the first time that I've ever felt that type of anything in my life. That's probably the worst pain that I've ever been in my entire life."
Something important to note was that when the injury came around a second time, he felt the pain in his leg more than his back. Three days before Kansas picked an upset win over No. 6 Oklahoma, Daniels and the coaching staff expected him to play, but he didn't take a single snap after his performance against BYU.
When asked if he ever considered entering the transfer portal — a narrative Kansas State beat reporter Derek Young falsely created — Daniels responded with a firm 'no.'
"I never thought about hitting the transfer portal,” he said. However, Daniels did speak about how some of the Jayhawk faithful turned on him, claiming he was faking an injury or avoiding competition.
"For the first time in my time being a Jayhawk, I've seen people turn on me. It was kind of crazy because I'm like, I'm actually hurt," he said.
"The injury that you don't see is probably the one that everybody's gonna be most skeptical about," Daniels added, referring to how his back injury was sustained in a practice and is not as visible as a torn ligament or broken bone.
Finally, Daniels expressed his relationship with Jason Bean, who was the starting quarterback for most of the season and guided the Jayhawks to their best season in recent history.
"And the fact that I was able to see Jason Bean go out the exact way he wanted to come in, it was everything to me because I look up to him. He's one of my brothers. He was somebody when I first came in, I was able to learn a lot from him. He has a lot of intangibles that you can't teach... He is somebody who is able to go out there and play the game. So I didn't want my injury to take away from everything we had going on within the program."
Ultimately, Daniels is the face of Kansas football and the Jayhawks are a much better team with him on the gridiron. The possibilities are limitless for next year's team with him under center.
You can watch the full episode by clicking this link or viewing it below.