Kansas quarterback Jalon Daniels is already preparing for first opponent in 2023

It’s March, but Kansas quarterback Jalon Daniels is already looking ahead.

He’s begun preparation for Missouri State — KU’s opponent in its season opener, set for August 31 at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium.

“I’m talking to Coach K (offensive coordinator Andy Kotelnicki) about stuff and we’re trying to think of (how) schematically to ... go against these teams,” Daniels said Thursday. “I want to be able to get a head start. I don’t want to be able to say, ‘All right, this week is coming up, now let me prepare for this team.’

“I want to be able to get a head start on these teams, so when the week does come up I can say, ‘All right, I’ve seen this before.’”

Kansas football had its 11th practice on Thursday. The spring slate will culminate in the Spring Showcase on April 7.

Daniels has spent much of spring football managing a shoulder injury. As a result, the coaches have limited his reps for much of spring, but Daniels has recently seen an increased workload.

He’s participated in all team activities, including 11-on-11 reps, seven-on-seven and more.

Increasing Daniels’ durability has been a point of emphasis for Kansas coaches this offseason.

“It’s going great,” Daniels said. “Coach (Matt) Gildersleeve has me doing a lot of extra work to be able to put myself in a better position to sustain that durability throughout the season. So I feel like we are on a great path right now.”

Near the end of the media viewing session at Thursday’s practice, Daniels’ throws looked sharp and accurate.

“For a quarterback, it takes a minute for your arm to warm up fully,” Daniels said. “I feel like the more and more throws that I get, the more my arm is used to being able to say, ‘All right, we’re back at it and we’re back on the field. Let’s just keep on making throws repeatedly because we know we’re able to make the throws.’”

The QB’s throws weren’t the only impressive thing about him; he also looked bigger and stronger,

“He looks so much bigger and stronger and more lean,” said KU wide receiver Luke Grimm. “He broke 21 miles per hour, too. Honestly, I want to say there were 20-30 guys that broke their top speed this winter.”

This of course comes off a season in which Daniels played like a star. Daniels threw for 2,014 passing yards with 18 passing touchdowns and four interceptions while also running for 425 yards and seven more touchdowns over nine games last season. Daniels made the All-Big 12 second team after his 2022 campaign.

Grimm’s statement goes hand-in-hand with what Daniels has seen of KU’s offense overall.

“We’ve got a lot of athletes that can do a lot of things with the balls in their hands,” Daniels said. “One thing Coach K likes to put a big emphasis on is being able to spread the ball around and being able to put the ball in people’s hands in whichever way (to) make plays.”

The Jayhawks still have several months until they play Missouri State, which Daniels’ knows, but he’s not taking his foot off his weight room and conditioning work.

“You have to be able to stay in shape because there’s a very long time (between) when you play that next game and when you played that last game during the offseason,” Daniels said. “We are just trying to be able to stay in shape and better prepare ourselves to get more comfortable.”