COUNTRY ROADS! TAKE ME HOME! Well J.T. Daniels has found a home in Morgantown West Virginia. The former USC Trojan and Georgia Bulldog entered the transfer portal following the 2021 season. Daniels began the season as the Bulldogs starting quarterback but an injury dropped him down the depth chart. After Stetson Bennett led the Bulldogs to a National Championship he had no chance of winning his job back. He decided he would transfer to West Virginia in hopes of reviving his once promising career. I have been on the J.T. Daniels bandwagon since he came into college and there is no reason to jump off now. Number 22 in our series 99 Things is J.T. Daniels.
Daniels was a five star quarterback in the class of 2018. He was the number 16 prospect and number three quarterback behind Trevor Lawrence and Justin Fields. Daniels was actually supposed to enroll with the 2019 class but decided to reclassify and enter USC in June of 2018. Daniels was named the starting quarterback after beating Matt Fink and Jack Sears for the job. His freshman season was full of highs and lows but he gained valuable experience. He averaged 242 yards passing over the course of the season which is impressive for a true freshman. Daniels was prepared to take a step forward in his sophomore year before suffering a torn ACL ending his season. He would be replaced by Kedon Slovis who would cement himself as the starter for USC. Daniels would look to transfer following the 2019 season.
The transfer portal offered Daniels numerous options. LSU, Michigan, Penn State, Tennessee and Washington were rumored to be interested in his services. Daniels ultimately decided to transfer to Georgia. His ACL injury had a longer recovery period resulting in him not being ready for the start of the 2020 season. Daniels eventually was named the starter on November 21st against Michigan State after Stetson Bennett suffered an injury. Daniels would complete 28-of-38 passes for 401 passing yards and 4 touchdowns in his debut resulting in a 31-24 victory. He would start four games in the 2020 season winning each game. Many Georgia fans believed they found their future starting quarterback at this point.
Heading into 2021 some analysts predicted he would win the Heisman (I was one of them). Daniels has NFL talent but his ACL injury set him back. Kirby Smart selected Daniels to be the starting quarterback for the 2021 season. Daniels suffered an oblique injury early in the season allowing Bennett to reclaim his starting position. Bennett would be the starter for the majority of the season including the SEC Championship and College Football Playoffs. Daniels elected to reenter the transfer portal following Georgia’s National Championship. No matter how poorly Bennett performed in spring practice or fall camp Daniels had no chance to take his spot back.
This brings us to present day where Daniels is battling to be the West Virginia starting quarterback. Daniels is also reacquainted with Graham Harrell who was his offensive coordinator his last season at USC. Garrett Greene, Will Crowder, and Nicco Marchiol are the competitors to become QB1. Greene played in 10 games and attempted 26 passes last season. Crowder only played in one game and attempted just two passes. Daniels is significantly more talented and will likely be named the starting quarterback for the Backyard Brawl against Pitt. This would set up a matchup between Daniels and his former successor, Kedon Slovis.
The talent and potential for Daniels have never been a question. He has the arm talent in order to play in the NFL. He has the accuracy to put the ball in tight windows where only his receiver can get the ball. Daniels has the arm strength stretch the field vertically and horizontally. He does not struggle throwing the ball to the boundaries. Daniels can move in the pocket but his is not a mobile quarterback. He can throw on the run but rarely will he tuck the ball and go across the line of scrimmage. Daniels also has instances where he is too aggressive with his throws which result in interceptions. Some interceptions are also the result of him not setting his feet which allows the ball to float too high or be underthrown.
As previously mentioned, West Virginia opens the season on the road against Pitt. The Backyard Brawl is a must win game in many West Virginia fan’s minds. Losing to Pitt to start the season would be brutal for the Mountaineers. West Virginia will also host Towson and travel to Virginia Tech. The Big 12 slate features trips to Oklahoma State, Texas, Texas Tech and Iowa State meanwhile Oklahoma, Kansas State, TCU, Kansas and Baylor will visit Morgantown. West Virginia will play 11 power five teams making the quarterback position even more vital to their success.
Daniels has the potential not only be one of the best quarterbacks in the Big 12 but one of the best in the country. According to FanDuel, Daniels is currently +10,000 to win the Heisman Trophy. West Virginia fans should consider throwing a few dollars on this bet because the potential is there, the question is the health and the execution. Neal Brown has yet to win more than six games since becoming the West Virginia head coach. If he starts Daniels I have confidence West Virginia wins at least eight games with the potential of winning up to 10 games. Will J.T. Daniels find similar success to Will Grier?