UGA football added another quarterback Thursday when JT Daniels announced his decision to transfer from USC to Georgia.
Most people might not have thought that quarterback was position of need for UGA football. After all, Jamie Newman recently transferred to Georgia around the same time four-star Carson Beck enrolled. Five-star Brock Vandagriff is also committed to the 2021 class.
However, Kirby Smart isn’t “most people,” and if he deems a certain position a priority, he’s going to bring in some talent at that position. Smart did just that Thursday by reeling in redshirt sophomore JT Daniels from Southern California.
Daniels was the No. 3 ranked quarterback behind Trevor Lawrence and Justin Fields in 2018. He had a pretty good true freshman season, passing for 2,672 yards with 14 touchdowns. He saved his best performances for last, passing for over 300 yards against rivals UCLA and Notre Dame.
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Daniels retained the starting job entering the 2019 season with a new offensive coordinator bringing in a much better passing scheme. Unfortunately, Daniels tore his ACL and his meniscus after just one game. His successor Kedon Slovis excelled in the new offense and Daniels elected to leave USC.
Because he only played in one game last year, Daniels is now a redshirt sophomore. With the NCAA expected to pass a rule allowing transfers to become eligible immediately in the near future, Daniels will probably be able to play this coming season. But if the NCAA doesn’t grant him a waiver, he’ll have a headstart on next year’s three-man quarterback battle with Beck and Vandagriff.
Smart is a firm believer in the “iron sharpens iron” mantra, and the quarterback position isn’t exempt from that. Smart wants stiff competition at every position. There’s no better way to prevent complacency at the top of the depth chart than bringing in someone to make those players work a little harder.
Newman was a sho-in for the starting job in 2020 going into the week. Now, he’s going to have to compete a little harder because Daniels didn’t leave his southern California home to hold a clipboard.
The same is true for Daniels, Beck and Vandagriff in 2021. Daniels doesn’t just win the job because he has starting experience. Beck doesn’t just assume the role because he committed long before his competitors. And Vandagriff isn’t owed the spot because he’s a five-star prospect. What you did in the past doesn’t matter when a fellow Bulldog quarterback is beating you Monday-through-Thursday.
How will the quarterbacks align on Georgia’s depth chart? We’ll all have to wait and see. Without a spring practice season, there’s no way to judge Newman and Beck in Georgia’s new offensive system. Maybe Mathis has improved and recovered enough to join the fray. One thing is for certain, Georgia will have must-watch quarterback battles for years to come.