QB Race 2021 - Who brings what to the Kansas football huddle?
It’s almost game week for the Kansas football program and we still don’t know which quarterback will be the first to take a snap for Lance Leipold’s first KU team.
Truth be told, Leipold still might not even know yet. As he has promised repeatedly throughout preseason practices, this battle is one that could go right up until kickoff on Friday night.
All three QBs who appear to have been in the running this month have had their moments. And all three bring slightly different skill sets to the KU huddle.
For me, the choice is not as much about picking the best or most talented quarterback as it is about picking the QB whose skills best fit what the Jayhawks need today.
Offensive coordinator Andy Kotelnicki teased that mentality when he said the coaching staff was looking for “consistently good” play not “occasionally great” play.
None of us have been out there for full practices, so we don’t have much of a feel for how the competition has looked beyond what we’ve heard.
But we have asked questions. We have talked to the players themselves. And we do have some idea of what this program needs from its quarterback, both today and in the years to come.
There’s a better-than-good chance that at least two of these guys — and perhaps all three — will be under center for Kansas this fall. All three have had their shot with the first team throughout preseason camp and it appears as if the starting job is still up for grabs.
The goal, of course, is to pick one, watch him shine and stick with that guy for the entire season.
Easier said than done.
With that in mind, here’s a look at what each of the top three options at the position would bring to the offense this fall at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium.
We’ll go with alphabetical order to make it clean and easy.
Jason Bean – 6-3, 189, Jr.
Bean is the wild card of the bunch. He’s a guy that very few KU fans have seen play. He’s a guy who is known for his speed and ability to move around and make plays.
And he’s a guy who has better career stats than the other two contenders combined — 1,307 passing yards on 101-of-182 passing with 17 TDs and nine interceptions, with 440 yards rushing and five more touchdowns on 73 carries.
Here’s the rub: Those stats all came in basically two seasons at North Texas and no one knows whether his talent will translate to the Big 12 level.
Bean believes it will. He’s a confident kid. But he’s also still getting familiar with his surroundings.
Sure, Leipold and the Kotelnicki offense are new to all three of these guys. But at least Daniels and Kendrick began learning it while knowing almost all of the players around them.
Bean is just starting to hit his stride in building those relationships and he has appeared more and more comfortable in that area each time I have seen him this summer.
If that new-found comfort and familiarity extends to what he does on the field, that could bode well for a late push that wins him the job.
Jalon Daniels – 6-0, 215, Soph.
The second-year Jayhawk is by far the most outspoken of the three.
Daniels has a personality and an energy that people tend to gravitate toward, and those traits have made him well liked by his teammates.
He also has a big arm and the ability to extend plays and improvise when things break down.
We saw plenty of that last year. While it led to Daniels gaining a ton of respect as a true freshman thrown into the hottest part of the college football fire, it also got him in trouble to the tune of four interceptions, four fumbles and what seemed like 4,000 crushing hits.
He popped back up after nearly every one of them. And that, too, won him a ton of respect in the huddle and in the locker room.
Daniels says he learned a lot from the mistakes he made last season. He says things have slowed down and the college game makes more sense to him now.
Those facts have only added to his confidence. If it’s a gun slinger you want under center this fall, Daniels is likely the guy you’re hoping to see on Sept. 3.
Even if he does win the job, though, accuracy is going to be the biggest thing to watch with Daniels.
Miles Kendrick, 5-10, 205, Sr.
Kendrick is without question the safest choice of the three. He has poise, he’s been around the program (and college football) the longest and he is confident in his ability to operate in any situation.
While all of those traits are great for QBs to have, the one thing he doesn’t have is the ability to wow you. Maybe that’s OK with this coaching staff. Or, better put, maybe that’s OK with this coaching staff right now.
They sure seem like the kind of group that would prefer, at any position, to play the fundamentally sound player who avoids mistakes and executes what’s called.
Therein lies the problem with Kendrick. While he is that player in a lot of ways, his average arm strength and inability to consistently push the ball down the field (5.4 yards per attempt for his career) make him a little easier for opponents to scout and contain.
There is, of course, the chance that he has improved a great deal from last season or that this offense fits him better.
If the coaches are calling things that fit his strengths — short, quick passes, moving to throw and staying ahead of the sticks — Kendrick could be the right guy to get the first crack at leading the KU offense this fall.
For my money, though, he always has seemed more like a rock solid back-up option rather than a front-line featured talent.