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ASU Football: Jayden Daniels named to Maxwell Award watch list

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Arizona State v Arizona Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The two-year college career of Jayden Daniels has been an up and down journey. In 2019, he grew from 18-year-old true freshman starter to poised freshman phenom. Heading into his junior season, Daniels has been named as one of just five Pac-12 players on the Maxwell award watch list. The award is given to college football’s most outstanding player.

Following the 2019 season, Covid-19 halted spring practice in March of 2020, and changed everything for the 2020 season. Arizona State played just four games in the pandemic shortened campaign, and its 2-2 record won’t raise any eyebrows in the halls of history. Daniels took a small step back in 2020.

In the four contests, Daniels threw for 701 yards, at a 58.1 percent clip. Without receivers like Brandon Aiyuk (drafted after 2019) and Frank Darby (missed three of four games), Daniels struggled to get in rhythm with his young cast of receivers.

Part of what makes Daniels such an intriguing prospect is his dual-threat ability. He showed flashes of elite talent in the running game, rushing for 223 yards on 33 attempts, finding the end zone on foot four times. When Daniels’ arm and ability to run are both operating at a high level, the ASU offense will be able to score with the best in the conference.

Now, the Southern California native has a chance to play his way into the upper echelon of college quarterbacks, and subsequently a high level pick in the 2022 NFL draft. With another year off rapport under his belt, and a strong running game ready to burst onto the scene, Daniels has every opportunity to thrive in what we can call a “take two” of his sophomore season.

The fun gets underway in Tempe on September 2, as the Sun Devils host Southern Utah in front of what will surely be a packed Sun Devil Stadium for the first time since November of 2019. This program is no stranger to preseason accolades and hype, 2021 will be a show it year for Jayden Daniels and the Arizona State football program.