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Report: Vols “Among Teams to Watch” for 5-Star Transfer QB

(Photo via USC Athletics)

One of the top quarterback prospects from the 2018 recruiting class has put his name into the NCAA transfer portal, and Tennessee is reportedly a team to watch as a potential landing spot.

J.T. Daniels, a former five-star quarterback and former starting quarterback for the USC Trojans, entered his name into the transfer portal on Thursday. Daniels suffered a season-ending knee injury in USC’s season opener in 2019, which allowed freshman Kedon Slovis to take over and run with the starting QB job. Slovis was named the Pac-12 Offensive Freshman of the Year for his performance as USC’s starting quarterback, and Daniels was expected to battle with Slovis for the starting job in 2020.

Prior to missing basically all of last season, Daniels started at quarterback for the Trojans in 2018, playing in 11 games and completing 59.5 percent of his 363 pass attempts for 2,672 yards, 14 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions as a true freshman.

Now, Daniels has his pick of where to transfer to, and Tennessee could be a team to keep an eye on.

According to 247Sports national analyst Charles Power, sources have indicated to him that Tennessee is among the many teams to watch as a potential destination for Daniels.

“Tennessee is among the teams to watch with transfer QB JT Daniels,” Power said in a tweet on Thursday. “The former 5-star has a relationship with Vols’ Tee Martin from his time at USC. Should have a ton of interest, but one of a few to watch per sources.”

Martin served as USC’s offensive coordinator and and wide receivers coach in 2018, Daniels’ freshman season with the Trojans. Martin was an assistant at USC from 2012 through 2018 before not being retained and being hired as Tennessee’s wide receivers coach in 2019.

Greg Biggins penned an article on 247Sports that looked at seven potential transfer destinations for Daniels, and he included Tennessee along with LSU, Michigan, Florida State, Ole Miss, Washington, and staying at USC.

It remains to be seen if Daniels would be immediately eligible if he does decide to transfer, but with the NCAA set to vote on a one-time transfer waiver for all student-athletes this offseason, it appears at least somewhat plausible that Daniels would be able to play anywhere he wants in 2020 should he go ahead and leave USC.

The Trojans’ head coach, Clay Helton, issued a statement on Thursday afternoon shortly after Daniels put his name in the transfer portal, claiming that he and USC are still supportive of Daniels and hope to have him return.

“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 team.”

Daniels wouldn’t be guaranteed a starting job at Tennessee if he does transfer to Knoxville, however. In fact, the Vols’ QB room is already a crowded one.

Tennessee has five scholarship signal callers on the roster currently. Rising redshirt senior Jarrett Guarantano, rising sophomore Brian Maurer, rising redshirt sophomore JT Shrout, and freshmen Harrison Bailey and Jimmy Holiday were all set to battle it out during spring practice this year. Unfortunately due to the COVID-19 outbreak, UT’s spring practices were canceled after just two practices, and the Orange & White Game was also axed.

Daniels’ knee injury was expected to keep him from participating in spring practices at USC this year, and the earliest he was expected back and ready for football action was early this summer.

In his one lone start in 2019, Daniels completed 25 of his 34 passes for 215 yards, a touchdown, and an interception against Fresno State.

Coming out of high school, Daniels was the No. 6 overall prospect and No. 2 pro-style quarterback in the 2018 class per 247Sports. The composite rankings listed him as the No. 16 overall recruit, No. 2 pro-style QB, and No. 2 prospect in the state of California. Daniels amassed over 12,000 passing yards and over 150 passing touchdowns in high school at Mater Dei in Santa Ana, California.

Daniels reclassified from the 2019 class to the 2018 class in order to enroll at USC a year earlier than expected and was still rated as one of the top prospects in the country.

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