JT Daniels' father reflects on son's long journey to start at Georgia
Between his knee injury and ultimate transfer from Southern Cal, JT Daniels has had a long journey to become the starting quarterback at Georgia, a position he stepped into last week with a 401-yard performance in the win over Mississippi State.
Daniels’ performance brought plenty of questions from fans and media to coach Kirby Smart about why he didn’t start Daniels until last week. In a story by the Los Angeles Times, Daniels’ father supported the conservative approach.
Daniels admitted that he did not have his full mobility early in the season. A postponement of the Nov. 14 Missouri game because of COVID-19 concerns gave the Bulldogs a chance for a reset. Smart told Daniels the Monday before Mississippi State that he was going to start.
“Wouldn’t you rather, with your 20-year-old son, have a coach that is going to be a little more on the cautious side than rushing you out there?” Steve Daniels said.
In his first media session with reporters on Saturday, Daniels said that he had been to the South only once — for the Manning Passing Academy in New Orleans — but loved it. He felt Smart would do whatever it takes to win, and he hit it off with Todd Monken, Georgia’s new offensive coordinator who was hired to bring a more explosive offense to Athens.
He looked at Georgia only after things did not work out at USC.
A former 5-star recruit at Santa Ana Mater Dei High, he was supposed to star in Los Angeles with the Trojans. He won the starting job as a freshman in 2018, but the Trojans stumbled to a 5-7 record, the school’s first losing season since 2000.
He won the job again entering last season and appeared poised to put up big numbers in new offensive coordinator Graham Harrell’s “Air Raid” offense but tore the ACL in his right knee in the opener. Kedon Slovis took over and became USC’s present and future, and it turned out that JT would have to leave L.A..
Daniels has a giant tattoo of a Trojan on his lower right leg he got before his freshman year, but there are no plans to remove it.
“That right leg is going to be the story of his football life,” Steve said. “The first tattoo is a lion for the (Mater Dei High School) Monarchs. Then you’ve got the Trojan. And when he gets a second to breathe, there’s going to be a Bulldog.”