LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels wins 2023 Heisman Trophy in close vote with Michael Penix

NEW YORK — LSU senior quarterback Jayden Daniels won the Heisman Memorial Trophy as college football's most outstanding player on Saturday night, capping off a sensational season where he led the nation's best offense.

It is the 20th time this century a quarterback has won the Heisman and Daniels is LSU’s third Heisman winner, following quarterback Joe Burrow in 2019 and the 1959 winner, halfback Billy Cannon. Alabama running backs Mark Ingram (2009) and Derrick Henry (2015) and Crimson Tide wide receiver DeVonta Smith (2020) are the only non-quarterback winners since 2000.

Daniels received 503 first-place votes and 2,029 total points. Washington quarterback Michael Penix Jr. was second in the voting (292, 1,701), Oregon quarterback Bo Nix was third (51, 885), and Ohio State wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. came in fourth (20, 352). Daniels was on 90.46% of the total ballots and won four of the six voting regions.

He is the fifth quarterback in the last seven seasons to win the Heisman after transferring schools and the first since 2016 to not play in his conference's championship game.

Florida State quarterback Jordan Travis was fifth in the balloting, followed by Alabama quarterback Jalen Milroe, Oklahoma State running back Ollie Gordon II, and Missouri running back Cody Schrader. Michigan’s Blake Corum and J.J. McCarthy rounded out the top 10.

The Heisman Trophy added to Daniels' award haul this season after he was named the Associated Press college football player of the year and the Walter Camp Player of the Year. He also won the Davey O'Brien Award, given to the nation's top quarterback.

Daniels, who turns 23 on Dec. 18, led the nation in total offense, passing efficiency, points responsible for, and rushing yards per carry, and tied the lead in touchdown passes (40) with Nix. He completed 72.2% of his passes for 3,812 yards and had 1,134 rushing yards and 10 more scores on the ground.

The game that perhaps won him the award came on Nov. 11 against Florida, when he became the first player in FBS history to throw for 350 yards and rush for over 200 yards in a single game. He finished with 606 of LSU's 701 total yards in a 52-35 victory.

LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels kisses the Heisman Trophy.
LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels kisses the Heisman Trophy.

The focal point of LSU's offense, Daniels’ steady hand and calm demeanor under pressure guided the Tigers as they led the FBS in scoring offense (46.4 points per game), total offense (547.8 yards per game), and third down conversions, averaging an absurd 8.53 yards per play.

"Being a college athlete and winning this award has been a dream come true. I want to dedicate this award to every boy and girl who has a dream or faith, with hard work you never know what's possible," Daniels said in his acceptance speech. "They said I was too skinny, so I had to wait. Then they said I relied on my legs a little bit too much, so I went to work, completed all those passes, had the season I had. They said I was too quiet, so I became more vocal. I stepped out of my comfort zone and now I'm here today.

"So what did I learn from all this? I learned how to block out the noise, that you can overcome any obstacle, and just be humble, be legendary and most importantly, you know be joyful about what you do. And when you get knocked down, get back up, keep smiling and never give up on your dreams."

A decorated four-star recruit out of Cajon High School in San Bernardino, California, after throwing 170 touchdowns with 41 rushing scores, Daniels began his college career at Arizona State in 2019.

He arrived in Tempe after enrolling in school early under head coach Herman Edwards. The 6-foot-4 Daniels weighed just 175 pounds, raising questions about if he could physically hold up playing college football. But he became the first freshman quarterback to be named Arizona State's starter for a season opener.

He showed flashes of the player he would become as a freshman, throwing for 2,943 yards with 17 touchdowns and two interceptions as the Sun Devils finished 8-5. Arizona State only played in four games during the shortened 2020 season.

His time with the Sun Devils was anything but smooth. Still, Daniels started 29 games in three seasons, his final year in 2021 played amid the backdrop of the NCAA investigating the school for its recruiting practices during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Daniels said he was staying at Arizona State at season's end but jumped in the transfer portal months later after five coaches on the staff either left or were fired amid the NCAA investigation.

His teammates were clearly upset with that decision and posted a video of players cleaning out his locker, with someone in the background commenting that Daniels "sucked anyways."

Upon his arrival at LSU, he beat out two other quarterbacks who were top recruits and ended 2022 with 2,913 passing yards and 17 touchdowns, adding another 885 yards and 11 touchdowns on the ground.

Follow sports reporter Scooby Axson on Twitter @ScoobAxson

Jayden Daniels Heisman Trophy acceptance speech

Contributing: Sahil Kurup, USA TODAY Network

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Heisman Trophy winner: LSU QB Jayden Daniels wins 2023 Heisman