‘Five, Out’: LSU’s Jayden Daniels opts of ReliaQuest Bowl to begin preparations for NFL Draft

LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels captured the 2023 Heisman Trophy and is projected to be a top pick in this year's draft. PHOTO BY: LSU athletics

LSU quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Jayden Daniels has played his final game in purple and gold.

Daniels, after appearing at an NIL function for Raising Canes and donating $25,000 to the Greg Brooks Victory Fund, released a video Monday announcing his decision to opt out of the Jan. 1 ReliaQuest Bowl against Wisconsin.

Daniels will begin training for the 2024 NFL Draft where he’s a projected first-round picks.

“I want to say thank you to everyone who made this happen, but all great things must come to an end,” Daniels said in the video. “I feel better about the state of the program with the quarterbacks moving forward. No matter what, I promise this will not be the last time you see “That Kid” around, because this is my city, my second home.”

Daniels enjoyed one of the most spectacular seasons ever by an LSU quarterback in 2023. He led the nation with 4,946 total yards and 50 touchdowns.

“I gave not only LSU, but college football everything I had,” Daniels said later in the day during a Christmas shopping function with local children. “I just felt it was best for me to start a new journey, that’s going to the pro draft.”

He became the second player in SEC history (the other being Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel) to pass for 3,500 yards (3,812) and rush for 1,000 yards (1,134) in the same season.

With Daniels forgoing the bowl game, No. 13 LSU (9-3) will be led by redshirt sophomore Garrett Nussmeier who played in six games in ’23. He completed 17 of 33 passes for 196 yards and a touchdown. He’s expected to be backed up by true freshman Rickie Collins who completed two passes for three yards in one game in ’23.

Nussmeier has played in a total of 17 games during his career, completing 98 of 174 passes (1,325) yards with six interceptions and eight touchdowns.

Daniels received 503 first-place votes and 2,021 total points to become LSU’s third Heisman Trophy winner over Washington’s Michael Penix Jr., Oregon quarterback Bo Nix and Ohio State wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr.

Daniels’ 412.2 total yards per game are more than 85 other FBS teams and his 50 total TDs are more than 91 teams scored this year. He completed 236-of-327 passes for 3,812 yards, 40 TDs and four interceptions and his 208.01 passer efficiency is the best in FBS history.

Daniels directed LSU’s top-ranked offense in points (46.4) and total offense (547.8) with an explosive flair, leading the country in plays of 20-plus yards with 90 (70 passing, 20 rushing). He also led the Tigers to a nation’s best 62.6% succession rate on their possessions. The Arizona State transfer became the first FBS player in history to pass for more than 12,000 (12,749) yards and rush for over 3,000 (3,307) yards in a career.

He was able to become the first LSU player to ever pass for more than 6,000 yards (6,725) and rush for 2,000 yards (2,019) in a career.

Daniels enjoyed a memorable postseason where he was named first team All-SEC and the league’s Offensive Outstanding Player before adding the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, and the Davey O’Brien National Quarterback Award and Walter Camp Player of Year.

“Transferring to LSU gave me a fresh start and a breath of fresh air,” Daniels said. “It gave me joy football back and I’m appreciative of it. Year 1 was not without bumps and bruises, but we made the best of it. I’m thankful to everyone who made it possible.

“Year 2 we took it up a notch,” Daniels said. “While we did not accomplish our ultimate goal, we did lay the foundation for the path to success. While in Year 2, I was able to bring in a sweet trophy.”

Daniels finished: “I love ya’ll and I’m proud to be a California Bayou Boy. (Number) Five out.”

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William Weathers

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