Georgia’s quarterback outlook for the 2020 college football season got a little more interesting on Monday. USC transfer JT Daniels was granted immediate eligibility by the NCAA and joins fellow transfer Jamie Newman (Wake Forest) in the Bulldogs’ quarterback room.
Newman is still the favorite to win the starting job, but Daniels’ eligibility for 2020 is a boost to a quarterback room that was thin on experience outside of the Wake Forest transfer. Additionally, in a year with plenty of instability and potential virus-related absences, having a proven backup quarterback could be crucial in a tight SEC East race against Florida.
Regardless of how this year plays out, Georgia is slated to open 2021 against Clemson in Charlotte. Even if Daniels plays very little or as a backup this fall, that experience within a new scheme would help ease the transition to next season in a brutal opener.
Daniels – a former five-star prospect – arrives in Athens after starting 12 games at USC. As a true freshman starter in 2018, Daniels threw for 2,672 yards and 14 touchdowns. The arrival of Graham Harrell as play-caller provided an opportunity for Daniels to showcase his talents in 2019. However, Daniels suffered a season-ending knee injury in the opener against Fresno State. The emergence of Kedon Slovis as the Trojans’ starting quarterback likely relegated Daniels to backup duty in 2020.
The quarterback situation is just one piece of an intriguing offense for the Bulldogs. Coach Kirby Smart hired former Southern Miss coach and Oklahoma State play-caller Todd Monken to jumpstart an offense that managed only 5.4 yards per snap in SEC games last fall. Monken’s background in the Air Raid should blend Georgia’s strong rushing attack with an ability to generate more big plays out of the passing game.
Newman arrived at Georgia after a standout 2019 season at Wake Forest. In 12 appearances for the Demon Deacons, Newman threw for 2,868 yards and 26 touchdowns to just 11 interceptions. He connected on 60.9 percent of his throws and ranked fourth among ACC quarterbacks with 12 completions of 40 or more yards. Additionally, Newman ran for 574 yards and six touchdowns. Injuries and a tougher schedule in the second half of the year slowed Newman’s production but still finished second among ACC quarterbacks in total yards per game (286.8).
A closer look at Newman’s stats shows why he’s a favorite of the advanced analytics community in college football:
The COVID-19 pandemic forced Georgia to cancel its spring practice for 2020. The fall workouts will provide Smart and Monken with their first real look at how the offense will operate with Newman at the help. Daniels may not win the job in 2020, but his instant eligibility is a much-needed addition for depth and a fallback option if Newman struggles at any point. The development of Georgia's offense under a new coordinator, quarterback and revamped line is one of the biggest storylines to follow in the 2020 season.