The JT Daniels era in USC football is over. What now for the Trojans?
After two years on campus at USC, JT Daniels is headed to the Georgia Bulldogs as a transfer. The redshirt sophomore quarterback confirmed his intentions on Thursday afternoon with a tweet on his commitment to Kirby Smart’s program.
On the surface, it’s a key loss for the Trojans. They had eyed Daniels as the quarterback of the future after the early departure of Sam Darnold following the 2017 season, which led to his re-classification and eligibility in 2018. He beat out Matt Fink and Jack Sears with ease and was seemingly going to be the next great Trojan quarterback.
Losing that promise stings, even if it’s been tempered. Because a lot has changed since the Mater Dei wunderkind earned QB1 honors.
Daniels tore his ACL just two quarters into his sophomore season and was Wally Pipped out of nowhere by true freshman three-star recruit Kedon Slovis in 2019.
Even a healthy JT Daniels post-rehab wasn’t likely to re-win his job as the Trojans’ signal-caller this fall, especially with spring camp canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
There is roster protection for Slovis in the form of Matt Fink, but that’s where things get murky.
USC football could’ve used JT Daniels on the roster in 2020.
While Clay Helton’s program took in graduate transfer Mo Hasan from Vanderbilt this offseason, he was originally expected to be a walk-on, potentially leaving the Trojans with just two scholarship quarterbacks. Now he likely fills in that void as the No. 3, a spot on the depth chart USC has to call on in each of the past two seasons.
Looking ahead, the Daniels transfer highlights the Trojans’ failure to sign a quarterback in the 2020 recruiting class but could sweeten the pot to bring in two four-star recruits for 2021. USC already holds a verbal commitment from La Habra quarterback Jake Garcia and has still been pursuing Bishop Alemany’s Miller Moss.
They’ve got room for both, but getting each to sign will remain tricky. See: 2015 and 2016 when USC’s recruiting efforts botched the concurrent pursuits of Shea Patterson, Tate Martell, KJ Costello and Tua Tagovailoa.
For now though, it’s all eyes on Slovis. You can pre-delete your comments about Clay Helton botching this season’s quarterback decision.