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West Virginia Football: Why QB JT Daniels is an Impact Transfer Addition

JT Daniels, Georgia Bulldogs Football

West Virginia scored a huge win from college football’s transfer portal on Wednesday, as JT Daniels announced his intention to play for the Mountaineers in 2022. Daniels selected West Virginia over Oregon State and Missouri and heads to Morgantown with two years of eligibility remaining. This is the third stop in Daniels’ career after stints at USC and Georgia, and his decision to transfer to West Virginia is a huge boost for an inexperienced quarterback room and provides a chance for coach Neal Brown’s team to surprise in the Big 12.

Why is Daniels’ decision to transfer to West Virginia a big deal? Here are a few factors to consider:

West Virginia Football: Why QB JT Daniels is an Impact Transfer Addition 

Untapped Talent and a Fit for the Offense
Daniels committed to USC in the 2018 signing class as the No. 2 pro-style quarterback and the No. 16 overall recruit. The California native played in 11 games as a true freshman, throwing for 2,672 yards and 14 touchdowns to 10 picks. Daniels was set to work under a new play-caller in Graham Harrell and a pass-first scheme at USC in ’19, but he suffered a season-ending knee injury and never played again for the Trojans.

Daniels departed for Georgia in ’20 and started the final four games that season after a slow recovery from the ACL injury. In that four-game stint, Daniels threw for 1,231 yards and 10 touchdowns to only two picks, while averaging a robust 10.3 yards per attempt.

Bad luck in the injury department hit Daniels in ’21 once again. A preseason injury hindered him early in the year, with Stetson Bennett eventually becoming the No. 1 quarterback for Georgia. In 21 career games, Daniels has passed for 4,840 yards and 32 touchdowns to 16 interceptions.

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Although injuries and bad luck have allowed Daniels to start just one full season of games, the talent and potential that was there as a five-star prospect is still in place in ’22. Also, Daniels is working once again under Harrell at West Virginia, giving him an opportunity for a fast start in a familiar scheme.

Inexperienced Quarterback Room
West Virginia’s offense averaged only 5.4 yards per play and 22.8 points a game in Big 12 contests last year. Jump-starting this group was a priority for Brown, and one of the first steps was bringing Harrell aboard to call plays. Last year’s starter Jarret Doege opted to transfer to WKU, which left a couple of inexperienced options in Garrett Greene and Will Crowder, along with promising freshman Nicco Marchiol. Between those three quarterbacks, West Virginia returned only 32 pass attempts at the collegiate level. Daniels gives the Mountaineers an instant and proven starter for ’22 and help to bridge the gap to the next signal-caller – most likely Marchiol – in ’23 or ’24.

A Promising Supporting Cast Needed a QB
Although last year’s production was lacking, with a change in approach/scheme and an upgrade at quarterback, the pieces are in place for West Virginia to improve on offense in a big way in ’22. The offensive line brings back all five starters, Clemson transfer Lyn-J Dixon and Tony Mathis form a solid one-two punch at running back, and there’s talent at receiver with Bryce Ford-Wheaton, Sam James and Kaden Prather leading the way. Having Daniels in place should help West Virginia better utilize some of this talent this fall.

West Virginia’s Odds in the Big 12 Have Improved with Daniels
As mentioned previously, injuries have been an issue for Daniels, so keeping him upright and healthy in the pocket will be crucial to West Virginia’s ’22 hopes. Also, his arrival stems a tide of bad news in Morgantown after four key defensive players transferred since late February. Daniels needs to turn some of his potential into production, but with a familiar scheme under Harrell, a full season of high-level play is within reach. And if that is indeed the case, the Mountaineers will be a much bigger factor in the Big 12 than most had this team pegged at the end of the ’21 season. Potentially, Daniels is one of the better signal-callers in the Big 12 and could make this team a contender to finish in the top half of the conference. Although Baylor, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State are likely the preseason favorites, this league is wide open headed into '22. If the right pieces fall into place for any team outside of the top three, a surprise run in the conference isn't out of the question.

Podcast: Takeaways From Spring Games at Auburn, Texas A&M and Clemson, Transfer News, Early Spreads and Looking Back at the Memorable 1998 Season