Jayden Daniels’ departure from ASU sparks widespread criticism of program

Reports that quarterback Jayden Daniels will be entering the transfer portal is the latest news to come out of an Arizona State football program that is under national scrutiny. (Cronkite News file photo)

PHOENIX – In a move that sent shockwaves across the campus – and the Pac-12 Conference – Arizona State junior quarterback Jayden Daniels is entering the NCAA transfer portal.

Sun Devil Source, which first reported the news Thursday, said Daniels informed multiple coaches on the ASU staff of his decision, which sparked more negative attention on the program.

“The perception of Arizona State football is that it’s an absolute mess,” said Stewart Mandel, a reporter with The Athletic. “The star quarterback transferring, especially in the late stages after the transfer portal had mostly died down, just adds to that perception.”

A video circulating on social media showed several of Daniels’ teammates clearing out his locker.

The announcement was surprising given that on Dec. 2, 2021, he sent out a tweet confirming that he would return to Tempe for his senior season.


However, new revelations in the NCAA’s ongoing investigation of the program for alleged recruiting violations seemed to have changed the landscape for Daniels and the entire program. Since the season’s end, five ASU assistant coaches have resigned, including offensive coordinator Zak Hill, at least partly due to the allegations. The coaching staff shakeup is one of the main reasons Daniels has decided to explore other options, CBS Sports reported.

Reaction has been widespread. Those weighing in included the outgoing Arizona State running back Rachaad White, whose tweet suggested a popular sentiment: “Oooowweeeee … in trouble.”

Daniels, 21, is coming off a season where he completed 65% of his passes, threw for 2,381 yards, rushed for 710 yards and scored 16 touchdowns.

His most productive season was his freshman year. He completed 61% of his passes, threw for 2,943 yards, scored 20 total touchdowns and led ASU to upset victories at Michigan State and against Oregon to earn Pac-12 Honorable Mention Freshman Offensive Player of the Year honors.

“The fact is that he hasn’t really progressed since his freshman season,” Mandel said. “So you hope that when he decides where to go, it’s based on who can best develop him and increase his chances of getting drafted very high.”

Daniels, who is 6-foot-3 and 175 pounds, is reportedly receiving interest from multiple Pac-12 schools along with other schools outside the conference. With the recent Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) legislation affording players the opportunity to strike advertising deals with businesses, Daniels could be tempted to pick a school that grants him the most opportunities to increase his exposure – and bank account – through sponsorships.

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Daniels has landed quite a few NIL deals since the legislation was enacted seven months ago. One of his first deals was with Tempe’s Venezia’s New York Style Pizzeria, which named a specialty pizza after him, the “JD5.” He also paired with Parker Jones and The Jones Auto Group, which gave him a Ford Mustang valued at over $50,000. During his time in Tempe, Daniels certainly took advantage of NIL opportunities. It remains to be seen what his endorsement portfolio will look like going forward.

“He is going to be sought after and because of that, the way recruiting is working now, these schools will make promises to him about NIL opportunities,” Mandel said.

While the Sun Devil Source report did not rule out a return to ASU for Daniels, it seems unlikely that will happen given the myriad changes to the coaching staff and personnel throughout the program.

“The circumstances have changed and the stability of the program has gotten a lot worse,” Mandel said.

The vacuum created by Daniels’ decision possibly could be filled by Paul Tyson, who transferred from Alabama and has two years of eligibility remaining. One quarterback who would have been a particularly good fit in the Valley was Spencer Rattler, a Pinnacle High School graduate who entered the transfer portal after his sophomore season at Oklahoma. It seemed logical that ASU would go after him, but Rattler decided to continue his football career at South Carolina.

Daniels’ request has been processed by the school and is expected to officially enter the transfer portal by the end of the day Thursday.

Michael Baribault MY-kel BEar-re-bawlt
Sports Reporter, Phoenix

Michael Baribault expects to graduate in May 2022 with a bachelor’s degree in sports journalism. Baribault, who has interned with Arizona PBS and provided play-by-play broadcasting for the Healdsburg Prune Packers, a collegiate summer baseball team, is working for the Phoenix sports bureau.