JT Daniels moves to college football in West Virginia after staying in USC, Georgia

Quarterback JT Daniels’ twisted collegiate career has turned out onto a country road.

Daniels told ESPN that he is moving to West Virginia and that he called coach Neal Brown and informed him of the decision Wednesday morning.

Daniels was the most notable player left on the NCAA transfer portal. The 6-foot, 3-and-210-pound quarterback went 7-0 starting over the last two seasons in Georgia.

“When I go up and down the list, I feel like they have very, very good pieces everywhere,” Daniels told ESPN in a phone interview. “It feels like a great fit for the quarterback. I feel like there is a really, really, really good team that I want to step into and do my part to contribute.”

Daniels switched to Georgia after playing the 2018 and 2019 seasons at USC. He is a former ESPN 300 recruit from Mater Dei High School (Orange County, California) – one of the country’s most productive quarterback incubators.

He chose West Virginia over Missouri and Oregon State after visiting all three in recent weeks. The confluence of a strong complement of five recurring offensive linemen with 107 combined career starts, experienced skilled players and the impression Brown left behind led to Daniels choosing the Mountaineers.

The move to Morgantown also reunites Daniels with Graham Harrell, another important factor in his decision. Harrell is the new offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach in West Virginia. Harrell overlapped with Daniels as offensive coordinator at USC in 2019.

Daniels said knowledge of the Air Raid system that Harrell ran at USC will help ease the transition, as the offense is basically the one he learned back in 2019.

“It certainly helped to know Graham who got into it and have a really good relationship with him,” Daniels said. “Know that I trust that offense and that system, and I believe in that. I also feel really comfortable with Coach Brown and the ideas he has, and the way he runs a program.”

Daniels also enjoyed Morgantown and said he felt comfortable there.

“I loved it,” he said. “It feels very Athens-like, which is a typical university city [and] which I really enjoyed living in. “

Daniels is a pure pickpocket who has at times blinked over the course of a college career that has been undercut by injuries. He completed 69.5% of his passes and averaged 9.7 yards per carry. attempts over two seasons in Georgia, which is the highest number of any Bulldogs quarterback with more than 200 attempts.

After being named just the second true freshman quarterback in USC history to start an opening game back in 2018, Daniels made a promise while starting 11 games and throwing 14 touchdowns.

From there, injuries defined his next three seasons. As a sophomore, an ACL injury sustained in the 2019 opening was washed out that season and led to his transfer from USC to Georgia.

His recovery lasted into the 2020 season with the Bulldogs, which prevented him from starting early that season. He started the last four games that year, including a Peach Bowl victory over Cincinnati, which included three scored drives in the fourth quarter and 392 total passing yards.

Daniels came in 2021 as the favorite to win the Heisman Trophy and a top-ranked NFL draft prospect. He started three games during Georgia’s 2021 championship season, including the opening victory over Clemson. Both an oblique problem and a lat-muscle injury haunted Daniels, who also won the September starts against South Carolina and Vanderbilt. He only played a quarter of an hour against Vandy and left the game due to the lat injury after starting 9-to-10 passes.

Daniels stressed that he does not feel snake-bitten by the injuries, saying he takes “personal responsibility” for them.

“The No. 1 thing [that I need to prove] is that I can stay healthy, “Daniels said.” If there’s one thing I have not proven, it is. I have missed 35 games in three years. “

When he arrives in West Virginia, he participates in a quarterback competition defined by lack of experience. None of the current quarterbacks have started a game for the Mountaineers.

Returning scholarship quarterbacks Garrett Greene and Will Crowder bring little experience as they came together in 175 passing yards last season. Upcoming rookie Nicco Marchiol is an ESPN 300 recruiter in the 2022 class. Jarret Doege, who started the last two seasons, switched to Western Kentucky.

If Daniels wins the job, he will play behind an offensive line where all five starters return. That includes center Zach Frazier, who should be among the best in the country at his position, and the tackle by Wyatt Milum, who was considered one of the nation’s best freshman tackles last season.

West Virginia has gone 6-7 and 6-4 the past two seasons under Brown, and there is potential for an experienced quarterback starter to make a difference in helping the program turn the corner.

Daniels brings the most experience and the best skills to the group, and his arm talent could well pair up with the experienced returning receivers Sam James and Bryce Ford-Wheaton, who have combined for 2,676 career receiver yards.

“They have lots of skill guys,” Daniels said. “There is no doubt. And they have been one [top-ranked] defense the last five years. It feels like a really good, complete team that I want to be a part of. “

Daniels is in the midst of completing his courses to graduate from Georgia and will immediately be eligible for WVU as a graduate transfer. He emphasized how much he enjoyed his experience as part of the program and won the national title last season.

“I love Georgia, and Georgia has always loved me since I’ve been here,” Daniels said. “It’s been a really, really good and supportive fan base. I’m very, very grateful. I had no trouble adapting. I would not even consider it an adaptation. Everyone here has been good and honest and good people. “

West Virginia opens the 2022 season at rival Pittsburgh on September 1st. The game known as the Backyard Brawl could have a flair in Southern California when former USC quarterback Kedon Slovis switched to Pittsburgh out of season.

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