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JT Daniels enters transfer portal

The USC quarterback depth chart could suffer a significant blow, as former starter JT Daniels has entered his name in the transfer portal.

USC announced the news Thursday afternoon, with a statement from head coach Clay Helton.

“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,” Helton said in a statement. “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.”

Daniels originally committed to USC as a quarterback in the 2019 recruiting class, but was able to graduate a full year early and joined the Trojans in the fall of 2018. He quickly established himself and beat out Matt Fink and Jack Sears to grab the starting quarterback job.

During the 2018 season, when the Trojans struggled to a 5-7 record, Daniels completed 59.5% of his passes for 2,672 yards and 14 touchdowns against 10 interceptions. He hung onto the starting job heading into 2019, but was injured late in the first half of the season opener. He’d completed 25-of-34 passes for 215 yards, one touchdown and one interception to that point against Fresno State.

The knee injury kept him out for the rest of the season and was going to keep him sideline for most or all of spring ball as well.

In his place, Kedon Slovis took over as the starter and turned in one of the best true freshman seasons for a quarterback in college football history. It would have been an uphill battle for Daniels to take back the starting spot from Slovis, though he would have been given an opportunity to do so in the fall.

As Helton mentioned in his statement, Daniels is not required to transfer once his name goes into the transfer portal. The possibility exists that he could remain with the Trojans, as wide receiver Velus Jones and quarterback Matt Fink did last offseason. That would allow him to the opportunity to explore potential destinations now as a recruitable athlete in the transfer portal, in order to possibly get a head start on that process if he were to come back to USC for a year and then leave as a graduate transfer, or the NCAA were to eventually grant a one-time single-transfer option to all students.

If Daniels does go through with the transfer, it is another blow to USC’s quarterback depth chart. The Trojans lost Jack Sears from the roster last fall, as he elected to enter the transfer portal after being named the No. 4 quarterback.

While coaches like to have at least four scholarship quarterbacks on the roster, USC was already going to be down to three this fall, after failing to land one in the 2020 class. Now, the Trojans could be down to Slovis and Matt Fink, who does have some experience under his belt. USC is also the future home of Mo Hasan, a walk-on quarterback who has announced his intention to transfer to USC from Vanderbilt.

But this would put even more pressure on USC to land two quarterbacks in the 2021 class (if not a graduate transfer in this class). USC holds a commitment from five-star quarterback Jake Garcia (La Habra, Calif./La Habra), and is also chasing local standout Miller Moss (Mission Hills, Calif./Alemany).

Several teammates reacted to the news on social media, as tight end Josh Falo and nickelback Greg Johnson both expressed sadness at potentially losing Daniels to transfer.

Erik McKinney
Erik McKinney

Erik McKinney began writing for WeAreSC in 2004, during his junior year at USC, covering the Trojans football team and recruiting. He then moved on to ESPN.com in 2011, where he served as the West Region recruiting reporter and then the Pac-12 recruiting reporter. He took over as publisher of WeAreSC in January, 2019.

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