True freshman JT Daniels was named USC football’s starting quarterback on Sunday, beating out Matt Fink and Jack Sears for the job despite his youth.
JT Daniels should be preparing for his senior year in high school right about now. Instead, he just won USC football’s starting quarterback job.
Head coach Clay Helton declared Daniels the winner of the quarterback competition on Sunday, giving him the nod over redshirt sophomore Matt Fink and redshirt freshman Jack Sears.
“We had a very healthy quarterback competition this year with four incredible young men. All are tremendous people, teammates and football players. In the end, JT Daniels has earned the starting position and will be the starter against UNLV,” Helton said. “As you can imagine JT was excited when we let him know, but his uncanny maturity kept him focused on what is next.”
That completes a whirlwind nine months since Daniels decided to reclassify into the class of 2018, leaving Mater Dei and enrolling at USC a year ahead of schedule. First, he had to navigate a heavy course load in order to graduate early in May. Then he had to go head-to-head with older more experienced players in Fall Camp at the most challenging position on the football field.
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Daniels impressed from Day 1, showing off his stellar arm on a long touchdown throw to Michael Pittman. The first scrimmage was an even more outstanding demonstration of his level as he tossed four touchdown passes in his first unofficial outing at the Coliseum.
Though he wasn’t always perfect, throwing a couple of interceptions during the Mock Gameweek’s Tuesday practice, he was the most consistent of the three contenders. His practice completion percentages demonstrated his accuracy while his ability to feel put pressure in the pocket set him apart even further.
Sears did show great improvement from his shaky Spring Camp performances while Fink took coaching to heart and kept his name in the running, but ultimately, USC’s coaches couldn’t deny the ability of the freshman.
Daniels now follows in Matt Barkley’s footsteps as a true freshman starter at quarterback, outdoing his fellow Mater Dei alum by winning the job without the benefit of Spring Camp experience.
The first test for Daniels will be to lead USC against UNLV at the Coliseum on Saturday. The challenges will only get tougher from there with back-to-back road trips to Stanford and Texas looming.