USC QB JT Daniels will transfer to Georgia. Three quick thoughts on the big move.
3. Let someone else develop your starting quarterback
USC came up with one of the nation’s best recruiting classes in 2018.
Wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown was a great get, linebacker Palaie Gaoteote was a huge signing, and defensive backs Olajah Griffin and Isaac Taylor-Stuart were massive wins, but JT Daniels was the one.
Out of USC quarterback factory Mater Dei High, he was supposed to be the next superstar passer for the Trojans, with the arm, the savvy, and the upside to go right from his junior year in high school to the starting gig for the Trojans.
And now he’s a Georgia Bulldog.
It’s part of how the recruiting game works – keep bringing in talent. And then bring in more, and then more. But after all of the time and effort put into USC landing Daniels, he came up with one okay year in a losing season – hitting just under 60% of his passes for 2,672 yards and 14 scores with ten picks – and then blew out his knee in the 2019 season opener.
When it comes to signing top quarterback prospects, though, that’s going to limit the options unless you luck out. The idea was that Daniels was going to be the star of the USC show for at least three years, possibly four.
That, along with the murky job status of head coach Clay Helton – didn’t help the cause when it came to trying to woo Cal high school superstar prospect DJ Uiagalelei – he went to Clemson – and attempting to keep dual-threat killer Bryce Young – another Mater Dei product – to his commitment as he took his talents to Alabama.
USC developed Daniels, and now Georgia gets to potentially reap the rewards, either as a good challenger to Wake Forest transfer Jamie Newman, or as an option who might have to sit a year before taking over the reigns of a national championship-caliber program in 2021.
As Georgia knows, that’s the cost of doing business now. It lost Justin Fields and Jacob Eason because it had Jake Fromm,
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2. It’s not like Daniels is a slam-dunk to be the Georgia starter
Carson Beck is a 6-4, 220-pound bomber out of Jacksonville who was originally gone to Alabama before flipping to Georgia. He’s got next level tools, and so does Dwan Mathis, a 6-4, 200-pounder out of Michigan who can move. Ohio State and Michigan wanted Mathis, and Georgia got him.
Daniels might have been a bigger overall recruit than Beck and Mathis – neither one was considering the prospect that Fromm, Eason or Fields was, either – but there’s enough talent between them to get their shot over the next few seasons.
And then there’s Jamie Newman, a 6-4, 230-pounder with a next-level arm who hit 61% of his throws for almost 3,000 yards with 26 touchdowns and 11 picks – and with six rushing scores – for Wake Forest last year.
And after Newman, there’s Brock Vandagriff, who’s every bit the prospect for the 2021 class that Daniels was for 2018.
Basically, Daniels will have to win the job whenever he’s ready to go.
The NCAA put the kibosh on the one-time transfer exemption for all of college football, but Daniels is going to push for immediate eligibility anyway. He’s not a grad transfer – which meant he wouldn’t have needed to lose a year to transfer – and he’s just two years out of high school.
Even if he is eligible, Newman might be the better option for this year’s Dawg team, because …
1. How healthy is Daniels?
Here’s where this could really pay off for both Georgia and Daniels.
We all triple-hope that the 2020 college football season goes off without a hitch, but considering the NBA, NHL and MLB still aren’t rolling yet, and there are only about a million pieces to the puzzle that still have to fit for colleges to open up, much less college football, let’s see.
Daniels is still less than a year removed from the knee injury that ended things right out of the gate. He wouldn’t have been a go in spring ball had it gone off, and part of the reason he’s transferring is because he likely wouldn’t have had the shot to beat out Kedon Slovis.
It’s not 100% certain that he’ll be 100% healthy by the time Georgia fall camp rolls around, either.
In a perfect world, Newman is fantastic, Daniels gets a full year to heal up and get ready to roll, and then the offense is his in 2021. But if there isn’t a season, then he gets the time off to get stronger and learn the system, Newman will be off to the NFL, and Georgia has its guy.
Or, everything goes off fine, Daniels is all good come September 7th against Virginia, and Mr. Five-Star becomes everything for Georgia that USC was hoping to get.