JT Daniels will be able to participate in some non-contact drills during USC Spring Camp, giving him a chance to start competing with Kedon Slovis earlier than expected.
USC’s 2020 quarterback competition may get started a bit earlier than was initially expected. That’s because JT Daniels will be available to participate in non-contact drills in Spring Camp.
“I’m excited that JT has progressed well enough from his surgery that he can participate in some non-contact drills in the spring,” head coach Clay Helton confirmed in the Trojans 2020 Spring Camp Media Guide.
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The extent of Daniels’ availability will remain unknown until USC takes to the practice field on Wednesday (The start of camp was delayed from Tuesday because of weather concerns).
Most of the work quarterbacks do in practice is non-contact to begin with. They wear gold jerseys denoting their non-contact status. In that sense, Daniels may be able to begin throwing in a variety of different contexts. The most obvious would be “routes on air,” which would allow him to build chemistry and timing with receivers running their route tree with zero risk to his injured knee.
He may also be able to work with Graham Harrell and the rest of the quarterbacks during individual drills.
The real test will be seeing if Daniels can take part in 7-on-7 action. The lack of a pass rush in those periods could make it possible. It would also give Daniels the opportunity to show the offensive coordinator his command of the offense in a far more useful context than playing toss and catch with receivers in other periods. The quarterback who ultimately wins the starting job will need to prove adept at reading the defense and getting the ball out fast.
Daniels suffered his injury on August 31 while playing Fresno. The first day of camp would be just over six months of recovery. Typically athletes rarely return to action earlier than nine months, but advancements in ACL repair surgery have sped up the recovery process significantly. After six months, the issue is less about mobility and more about the risk of reinjury.
With that in mind, Trojan fans could see Daniels throw without any physical limitations, though medical staff and coaches are likely to take a cautious approach with his return to full practice, particularly 11-on-11 drills.
At the very least, Daniels is now in a position to push Kedon Slovis with some semblance of competition before Fall Camp. And competition is always a good thing.