USC’s Daniels heading to Georgia to compete for QB job

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FILE – This Sept. 31, 2019 photo shows Southern California quarterback JT Daniels in an NCAA football game against Fresno State in Los Angeles. Daniels has entered the transfer portal. He announced his plan Thursday, April 16, 2020. Coach Clay Helton says the door is still open for Daniels to stay at USC, where Kedon Slovis took advantage of Daniels’ knee injury to become the Trojans’ starting quarterback last season. (AP Photo/Kyusung Gong)

ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia has picked up another high-profile transfer to compete for its starting quarterback job, landing former Southern California starter JT Daniels.

Daniels started for the Trojans in 2018, but lost his job to Kedon Slovis after going down last season with a knee injury.

He announced Thursday that he’s heading to Georgia, which is seeking a replacement for three-year starter Jake Fromm.

“THANK YOU USC,” Daniels wrote on Twitter, linking to a picture of him wearing Georgia’s red-and-black uniform. “Excited for the future. #GoDawgs.”

Daniels, who entered the transfer portal in April, will battle for playing time with graduate transfer Jamie Newman, who left Wake Forest to play his final college season with a program that has been a consistent national contender under coach Kirby Smart.

Daniels was among the top quarterback recruits in the nation when he left Orange County’s Mater Dei High School early to join the Trojans two years ago.

He started for USC as a freshman, passing for 2,672 yards with 14 touchdowns and 10 interceptions during an inconsistent season for him and the Trojans. Coach Clay Helton dismissed several offensive assistants after a 5-7 finish — the school’s first losing season since 2000.

Daniels won the starting job again out of camp last summer in new offensive coordinator Graham Harrell’s up-tempo scheme, but the sophomore tore a ligament in his knee in the Trojans’ season opener against Fresno State.

Slovis stepped into the starting job and excelled in Harrell’s offense as a freshman, passing for 3,502 yards with 30 touchdowns and nine interceptions. The lightly recruited Arizona native was named the Pac-12′s Offensive Freshman of the Year.

Leaving the Trojans was undoubtedly a tough decision for Daniels, a lifelong fan from the same high school that has produced USC greats such as Heisman Trophy winner Matt Leinart and four-year starting quarterback Matt Barkley.

Daniels’ right calf is even covered in a large tattoo featuring a Trojan helmet and the famed peristyle end of the Coliseum, USC’s home stadium.

Georgia now has two quarterbacks with significant college experience. Former walk-on Stetson Bennett, who was Fromm’s backup in 2019, played just four games in a mop-up role.

Newman is coming off his first full year as the Demon Deacons’ starter. He completed 60.9% of his passes for 2,868 yards, with 26 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. He also rushed for 574 yards and six TDs.

Wake Forest finished 8-5, losing to Michigan State in the Pinstripe Bowl.

The Bulldogs also have two top prospects from their last two signing classes.

D’wan Mathis enrolled at Georgia a year ago but suffered a major setback when severe headaches and sinus pressure led to surgery in May to remove a cyst from his brain. He recovered from the operation and was able to work on the scout team late in the season.

In December, the Bulldogs signed Carson Beck, a 6-foot-4, 226-pound quarterback from Jacksonville, Florida whose skills have been compared to Fromm’s.

Fromm gave up his final season at Georgia to enter the NFL draft, having led the Bulldogs to a 35-7 record as the starter, three straight appearances in the Southeastern Conference championship game, and a spot in the national title game to cap the 2017 season.

Fromm was picke d by the Buffalo Bills in the fifth round.

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Follow Paul Newberry on Twitter at https://twitter.com/pnewberry1963 and find his work at https://apnews.com

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More AP college football: https://apnews.com/Collegefootball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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