JT Daniels enters transfer portal, could still return to USC football

Tim Warner/Getty Images
Tim Warner/Getty Images /

USC football quarterback JT Daniels is entering the transfer portal, Clay Helton confirmed.

With a swirl of recruiting and coronavirus updates circulating, USC football fans might not have expected much transfer portal news to break. But that’s exactly what happened on Thursday.

Clay Helton released a statement on Twitter announcing JT Daniels’ decision to enter the transfer portal with an eye on exploring his options beyond USC.

“We have been working with JT and his family, as well as our compliance office, to help him navigate the process of entering his name in the transfer portal. It is his desire to explore all of his options going into the 2020 season. We will continue to support JT in every way possible and help him through his decision, including the option of staying on with our football team. JT is a terrific person, student, player, and valued member of our football family,” Helton said.

The timing around Daniels’ decision may seem odd, but Ryan Kartje of the Los Angeles Times tweeted a possible explanation:

“I’m told that JT Danie’s decision to enter the transfer portal follows the increased talk about a possible one-time transfer exception,” Kartje said. “But if he is not immediately eligible, I’m told USC is optimistic that he could return.”

Ryan Abraham of USCFootball.com reported similar information.

The NCAA is mulling the possibility of a new transfer rule, allowing all players to transfer once without having to sit out a season. That could benefit Daniels greatly.

It was expected for Daniels to stick it out with USC for the 2020 season even if he was unable to win back the starting job from Kedon Slovis. Under current rules, he would have to sit out the 2020 season if he were to leave now. On track to graduate early, he could instead transfer in 2021 as a graduate without the penalty to his eligibility.

If the exception were to go into effect this year, he could make his move and immediately play this fall, assuming the season goes ahead as scheduled.

If the exception ultimately doesn’t come to pass, it wouldn’t change the equation for Daniels in the long term. His best option would still be to return to USC with the possibility of stepping in for Slovis during the course of the campaign while focusing on a graduate transfer in 2021 if his starting prospects don’t improve.

The new rule is set to be voted on in May. By then there will be more clarity around Daniels’ future at or away from USC.

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