Most figure that if he’s cleared to play, JT Daniels will be Georgia football’s starting quarterback this season. That isn’t a guarantee—no starter has been named and the team has an impressive prospect in D’Wan Mathis battling for the job—but the former five-star USC transfer was one of the most highly-touted players that switched teams this offseason.
Earlier in the summer, it didn’t look like he’d be playing at all this year. Daniels is coming off of an ACL tear from last August, and Georgia had already brought in Wake Forest graduate transfer Jamie Newman. Daniels somewhat unexpectedly received a waiver from the NCAA in July.
Newman wound up opting out of the coming season, after being treated as the de facto starter. That opened up the Georgia football quarterback battle more, with Daniels, Mathis, Carson Beck and Stetson Bennett opting for the job. Daniels still hasn’t been cleared to play from a medical perspective, though. Kirby Smart is holding out hope that it will come ahead of Saturday, but so far it is not official.
“It’s one of those things that’s really beyond our control right now,” Smart said today. Georgia opens its season at Arkansas, led by former UGA offensive line coach Sam Pittman.
Georgia QB J.T. Daniels has not been medically cleared yet to play at Arkansas but Kirby Smart said he remains "hopeful" he will be by Saturday. "It's one of those things that's really beyond our control right now."
— Marc Weiszer (@marcweiszer) September 23, 2020
As a freshman in 2018, JT Daniels completed 59.5-percent of his passes for 2,672 yards, 14 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions in 11 games at USC. He was the starter entering the 2019 season, but went down with the knee injury during the Trojans’ Week 1 game. Freshman Kedon Slovis really impressed in his absence, leading to Daniels’ decision.
If he can’t go, Mathis is expected to make his first start. That would make for one of the better stories in college football this year, as he overcame brain surgery to remove a cyst back in 2019. Former Georgia football star David Pollack recently compared the Daniels-Mathis decision to the one Smart had to make between Jake Fromm and Justin Fields, with Daniels as the more proven player in the Fromm role, while Mathis may have a higher ceiling and more raw talent,
à la Fields.
We’ll find out the Week 1 starter, and Daniels’ medical status, soon enough. The Dawgs play at Arkansas on Saturday, with kickoff scheduled for 4 p.m. ET.