Leipold says Daniels is ‘ready to rock and roll as best he can at the moment’

photo by: Chance Parker/Journal-World photo

Kansas junior Jalon Daniels during the first day of Fall Camp on Tuesday, Aug. 1, 2023.

One of the biggest uncertainties of the Kansas football offseason — just like throughout last season — remains the status of quarterback Jalon Daniels.

Daniels dealt with recurring tightness in his back beginning in early August and throughout the duration of the 2023 season. The malady caused him to miss all but three of KU’s 13 games; he did not return after, immediately prior to the Jayhawks’ game at Texas on Sept. 30, suffering a “stabbing” sensation that he called “the worst pain that I’ve ever been in my entire life” on a YouTube show in January.

Now, the Jayhawks are counting on him to lead them as their starting quarterback and regain the form that earned him last year’s preseason Big 12 Conference player of the year honor. Daniels has stated that he will definitely be back this season. And head coach Lance Leipold said Thursday that is exactly what they should plan on at this point: “Nothing’s told me, not anything has (been) said from anyone, that I shouldn’t expect getting him ready for a fine season.”

“He’s doing well,” Leipold said, speaking to reporters shortly after a press conference to announce his new contract. “He’s working out, he’s doing things — how much he’ll do this spring we’ll still see. But he’s smiling, bouncing around, ready to rock and roll as best he can at the moment.”

Leipold added that “I’m not as concerned about, at this stage of his career, about spring, as I am about August,” and also more broadly suggested that spring practice, which will begin after KU’s spring break this year, could be on the lighter side for a number of experienced players.

The recently announced Spring Showcase, then — which is more of an elaborate practice than anything resembling a traditional spring game — will be the same or even less than it was last year, Leipold said.

“We have three wide receivers, two running backs, a quarterback — we have a lot of guys who have played a lot of football,” he said. “Playing in a full scrimmage at the end of spring probably is not — you get to a certain point, you want to keep your guys healthy … I don’t know what a live scrimmage in April is going to really do for Mello Dotson and Cobee Bryant as well.”

He added that “coaches have taken it upon themselves to reduce the importance of the spring game.”

“To me, we keep adding, adding, sometimes,” Leipold said, “but we don’t reduce in other ways.”

When Daniels isn’t receiving action, that will mean more reps for Cole Ballard — who saw unexpected action last year as a third-stringer and should now serve as the primary backup — and newly enrolled freshman Isaiah Marshall. Leipold said of Ballard that he is “really changing his body” and of Marshall, “Being here early, that’ll give us a great opportunity.”

“All three years, we’ve had to go to multiple quarterbacks,” Leipold said. “We got to keep guys healthy, but you better have one ready to go. So they’ll all get work.”

They’ll also be tasked with learning a somewhat adjusted offensive system under new coordinator Jeff Grimes.

“Jalon’s a very smart football player,” Leipold said. “He does a lot of things mentally behind the huddle and things that I’m confident that he stays sharp in what he should be doing.”

It’ll be similar, he noted, at running back, where Sevion Morrison and freshmen Red Martel and Harry Stewart III should get work in the spring.


Welcome to the new LJWorld.com. Our old commenting system has been replaced with Facebook Comments. There is no longer a separate username and password login step. If you are already signed into Facebook within your browser, you will be able to comment. If you do not have a Facebook account and do not wish to create one, you will not be able to comment on stories.