UGA football: JT Daniels transfer the latest in Georgia’s poaching of southern California

USC transfer quarterback JT Daniels is the third player from the southern California area to join UGA football this offseason.

Southern California is a treasure trove of blue-chip football talent, which is why the USC Trojans are one of the greatest programs in college football history. In recruiting, USC dominates its home region.

But lately, the Trojans have struggled to keep SoCal talent home in Los Angeles. After signing six of the top 10 (top 86 nationally) SoCal players in 2018, USC has only signed three such players over the last two recruiting classes.

In the 2020 class, no one poached southern California as much as the Georgia Bulldogs and Washington Huskies. UGA football signed two of the state’s best players, running back Kendall Milton and wide receiver Jermaine Burton. Recently, Georgia added a third SoCal player to the group in redshirt sophomore JT Daniels who is transferring from USC.

The recruiting woes have led to seasons that are beneath USC’s standards. Current head coach Clay Helton enters the season with a 40-22 record in four full seasons (plus one game in 2013 and nine games in 2015).

Even when Helton’s Trojans were winning, they weren’t living up to expectations. USC opened Helton’s first season (2016) with a loss to Alabama and two more to Pac-12 opponents, though USC did end the year with nine-straight wins to salvage the year. USC finished 11-3 and won the Pac-12 in 2017, but two of those three losses were non-conference games by a combined score of 73-21. USC fell to 5-7 in 2018 and slightly improved to 8-5 last year.

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Time will tell how effective Georgia’s poaching of southern California really was. Milton and Burton come to Athens with a lot of hype. Milton is said to be the next great star of “running back U,” while Burton will play a big role in re-modernizing Georgia’s offense. Daniels, if he’s allowed to play this season, will compete with Jamie Newman for the starting quarterback job. Next year, he’ll compete against signee Carson Beck and current five-star commit Brock Vandagriff.

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