If college football is played this fall, there’s a chance that former USC quarterback JT Daniels could have a major say in the race for the SEC or National Championship.
Daniels announced Monday morning that he’d been granted an immediate eligibility waiver by the NCAA, meaning he does not have to sit out a season per NCAA transfer rules.
“Thank you to the NCAA for granting me immediate eligibility and allowing me to play football this fall,” Daniels said in a tweet.
Heading into just his third season, Daniels has already had a wild ride to his college career.
With an opening at quarterback following Sam Darnold’s early NFL declaration, Daniels reclassified from the 2019 to the 2018 recruiting class, loaded his summer schedule up and enrolled at USC in the fall of 2018–a full year ahead of schedule–in order to compete for the starting spot. Daniels eventually beat out Matt Fink and Jack Sears and served as USC’s starting quarterback during what was a rough 2018 season for the Trojans.
Back as the starter in 2019, Daniels again beat out Sears and Fink, as well as true freshman Kedon Slovis, to grab the starting spot. But that lasted less than one half, as Daniels was sacked late in the second quarter against Fresno State and tore his ACL. Daniels was off to a very good start in that game, having completed 25 of 34 passes for 215 yards, a touchdown and an interception in just one half.
Slovis eventually was able to show his massive potential when he took over after the injury, but had Daniels not gotten hurt, he likely would have had a tremendous season in 2019.
Daniels had recovered enough from the injury to where he might have had an opportunity to throw some passes to wide receivers later on during spring ball, though that opportunity ultimately never came. Daniels eventually announced that he would transfer to Georgia in late May.
Now, he’ll join a heated quarterback competition at Georgia, as the Bulldogs also brought in Wake Forest grad transfer quarterback Jamie Newman this offseason. Georgia’s roster is loaded–and just added the nation’s No. 1 recruiting class in 2020–so Daniels will have plenty of support if he’s able to win the job.
As for USC, the Trojans are confident in Slovis, though Daniels’ transfer has left them very thin at quarterback–with just redshirt senior Fink and walk-on Vanderbilt grad transfer Mo Hasan–as viable depth behind him.
On the surface, and going strictly by the NCAA’s own rules when it comes to immediate eligibility waivers granted to transfers, allowing Daniels to play this season makes very little sense–though it is in line with other decisions that have benefited quarterbacks in recent years, like with Ohio State’s Justin Fields and Miami’s Tate Martell. Ultimately, however, this should be seen as a positive step and perhaps a clear signal that legislation allowing for a one-time free transfer–where a student-athlete gains immediate eligibility, without the need for a waiver, following his or her first transfer–is on its way. A vote on that, in football, baseball, basketball and hockey, is scheduled for January after it was pushed back from May.