USC names star freshman JT Daniels its starting quarterback: Three things to know
Daniels becomes just the second true freshman quarterback to start a Week 1 game for the Trojans.
USC named Daniels its starting quarterback on Sunday night for its Week 1 opener against UNLV on Sept. 1. Daniels was competing against redshirt sophomore Matt Fink and redshirt freshman Jack Sears for the starting job. In the process, Daniels becomes just the second true freshman quarterback to start the opening game of the season, joining Matt Barkley from the 2009 season.
"We had a very healthy quarterback competition this year with four incredible young men," coach Clay Helton said in a statement. "All are tremendous people, teammates and football players. In the end, Daniels has earned the starting position and will be the starter against UNLV. As you can imagine, JT was excited when we let him know, but his uncanny maturity kept him focused on what is next."
The news isn't unexpected, but it's still a big move for the Trojans. Here's what everyone needs to know about the USC stud freshman signal-caller.
1. Daniels already has an impressive resume: The 2018 recruiting class was loaded with blue-chip quarterback talent, and Daniels was part of that group. As a five-star prospect from Mater Dei High in Santa Ana (Calif.), Daniels was the No. 2 pro-style quarterback and No. 2 player in California, per 247Sports' Composite rankings. Daniels was also the 2017-18 Gatorade High School Male Athlete of the Year and 2017 Gatorade National Football Player of the Year. He led Mater Dei to the 2017 California State Open Division championship with a banner year, throwing for 4,123 yards and 52 touchdowns. In all, Daniels threw for more than 12,000 yards with a stunning 152-14 touchdown-to-interception ratio in his high school career.
2. He's making history at a program known for quarterbacks: In addition to being just the second true frosh quarterback to start in Week 1, Daniels is just the fourth true freshman quarterback to start a game for the Trojans -- period. He joins Barkley, 2002 Heisman Trophy winner Carson Palmer and Rob Johnson in that category. Barkley owns the most starts of that group with 12 in 2009. Should he stay healthy, Daniels is likely to break that record if USC goes to a bowl game this season.
3. He leads an offense that's still loaded with weapons: USC may have lost star running back Ronald Jones II and receiver Deontay Burnett, but as usual, the Trojans return a ton of skill. Running back Stephen Carr was a solid complementary piece to the run game last year when healthy. Receivers Tyler Vaughns and Michael Pittman Jr. combined for more than 1,200 yards and seven touchdowns. Plus, Daniels will be playing behind an offensive line that has 78 starts.
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