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Jayden Daniels gets a hometown hero’s welcome in San Bernardino

The Heisman Trophy winner is celebrated with a parade and has Cajon High’s football stadium named after him

Heisman Trophy winner and 2019 Cajon High graduate Jayden Daniels smiles acknowledging the crowd during a homecoming ceremony for the LSU quarterback at the San Bernardino school Saturday, Jan. 20, 2024. (Photo by Will Lester, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)
Heisman Trophy winner and 2019 Cajon High graduate Jayden Daniels smiles acknowledging the crowd during a homecoming ceremony for the LSU quarterback at the San Bernardino school Saturday, Jan. 20, 2024. (Photo by Will Lester, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)
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SAN BERNARDINO — The rain wasn’t enough to stop the city of San Bernardino from celebrating Cajon High School graduate Jayden Daniels with a parade Saturday.

Daniels returned to his hometown as the 2023 Heisman Trophy winner, college football’s most prestigious award, after a record-setting season at Louisiana State.

“I’m happy to see all the kids out here,” Daniels said. “I hope I give you all hope and inspiration. I love everyone from San Bernardino and I’m happy to be from San Bernardino.”

Family, friends and fans overcame the downpour as they waited on the Cajon football field for the LSU quarterback’s Mardi Gras-themed float to travel down Northpark Boulevard and Mountain Drive.

Heisman Trophy winner and 2019 Cajon High graduate Jayden Daniels acknowledges the crowd during a parade for the LSU star quarterback during a homecoming ceremony for him in San Bernardino on Saturday, Jan. 20, 2024. (Photo by Will Lester, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)
Heisman Trophy winner and 2019 Cajon High graduate Jayden Daniels acknowledges the crowd during a parade for the LSU star quarterback during a homecoming ceremony for him in San Bernardino on Saturday, Jan. 20, 2024. (Photo by Will Lester, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

Joseph Torres of Colton has been a fan of LSU since he was 12 years old and was one of the hundreds of fans who sat in the rain to show their support for Daniels.

Torres had previously traveled to Baton Rouge to watch Daniels score three touchdowns as he led LSU to a signature 32-31 victory over rival Alabama in 2022.

“I brought my little brother (to the parade) to expose him to this type of environment,” Torres said. “Jayden provided this type of recognition for our community and I want to encourage my brother and show him what he can do someday in the future.”

Once Daniels appeared on stage, he was showered with kind remarks and honors from various local dignitaries.

San Bernardino Mayor Helen Tran presented Daniels with a key to the city before proclaiming Jan. 20 as “Jayden Daniels Day” in San Bernardino.

“May this honor reflect our gratitude for the pride and joy Jayden has brought to us and may his success continue to inspire generations to come,” Tran said. “Your achievements resonate with us all.”

Daniels became the city’s first Heisman Trophy winner after completing 236 of 327 passes for 3,812 yards and 40 touchdowns for LSU this past season. The senior also rushed for 1,134 yards and 10 touchdowns.

LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels lifts the Heisman Trophy after winning the college football award Dec. 9, 2023, in New York. (Todd Van Emst/Pool Photo via AP)
LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels lifts the Heisman Trophy after winning the college football award Dec. 9, 2023, in New York. (Todd Van Emst/Pool Photo via AP)

He became the school’s third Heisman Trophy winner, joining quarterback Joe Burrow (2019) and halfback Billy Cannon (1959).

Daniels’ 2023 season was acknowledged with several other annual college football awards, including the Davey O’Brien Award, Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, Walter Camp Player of the Year and Associated Press Player of the Year. He also earned consensus All-American status.

Daniels spent four years as a varsity quarterback, leading coach Nick Rogers’ Cajon Cowboys to a CIF-SS Division 4 Championship in 2017.

He used his dual-threat ability to compile 12,482 total yards and 153 total touchdowns in his high school career and established himself as a four-star prospect in the 247sports composite rankings. His on-field prowess earned him a scholarship to Arizona State to play for head coach Herman Edwards and associate head coach Antonio Pierce.

Despite his high school success, Daniels never owned a Cajon letterman’s jacket until when the San Bernardino City Unified School District Board of Education presented him with one Saturday.

Heisman Trophy winner and 2019 Cajon High graduate Jayden Daniels reacts as he receives a letterman jacket from his former high school during a homecoming ceremony for the LSU quarterback at the San Bernardino school Saturday, Jan. 20, 2024. (Photo by Will Lester, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)
Heisman Trophy winner and 2019 Cajon High graduate Jayden Daniels reacts as he receives a letterman jacket from his former high school during a homecoming ceremony for the LSU quarterback at the San Bernardino school Saturday, Jan. 20, 2024. (Photo by Will Lester, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

“I don’t even know what to say,” Daniels said. “I’m just blessed for everyone supporting me. …  I appreciate everyone who came out here who’s supported me since I was a kid and they watched me grow up.”

The crowd was asked to turn its attention to the Cajon football stadium press box as a banner dropped and read “Jayden Daniels Stadium.”

“Just to have a stadium named after me is dope and something I never could have dreamed of. I’m proud to be from San Bernardino,” he said.

A banner is unveiled as the Cajon High football stadium is named after recent Heisman Trophy winner and 2019 Cajon High graduate Jayden Daniels during a homecoming ceremony at the San Bernardino school for the LSU quarterback Saturday, Jan. 20, 2024. (Photo by Will Lester, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)
A banner is unveiled as the Cajon High football stadium is named after recent Heisman Trophy winner and 2019 Cajon High graduate Jayden Daniels during a homecoming ceremony at the San Bernardino school for the LSU quarterback Saturday, Jan. 20, 2024. (Photo by Will Lester, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

Daniels will take the next step in his football career as he pursues a career in the National Football League. He’s been projected by ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. to go as high as a top-five pick in the NFL draft in April.

The quarterback signed fans’ memorabilia which included tiny footballs, LSU hats and a Raiders jersey.

“Honestly as a Dallas Cowboys fan, I’d love to have him because I know his capability and what he can do on the field,” Torres said. “Personally, I’d like to see him go to Minnesota (Vikings) to play with Alex (Mattison). Two kids from San Bernardino playing together.”

Minnesota Vikings running back Alexander Mattison, a San Bernardino High graduate, speaks during a homecoming ceremony for Heisman Trophy winner and 2019 Cajon High graduate Jayden Daniels during a ceremony at the San Bernardino school Saturday, Jan. 20, 2024. (Photo by Will Lester, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)
Minnesota Vikings running back Alexander Mattison, a San Bernardino High graduate, speaks during a homecoming ceremony for Heisman Trophy winner and 2019 Cajon High graduate Jayden Daniels during a ceremony at the San Bernardino school Saturday, Jan. 20, 2024. (Photo by Will Lester, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

Mattison, who starred at San Bernardino High and Boise State, participated in the parade and spoke on stage after embracing Daniels.

“I remember back in the day when he was running for the TJ Striders,” the Vikings running back said. “He was a quiet, humble and fast kid blazing it on the track, but now you’re blazing a new path that brings hope for a kid who was told he couldn’t and breeds confidence for a kid who’s never seen it before.”

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