If you have followed high school football for the past year or two, you have probably heard the name JT Daniels, but just who is behind the face mask this polarizing quarterback prospect?
2019 Five-Star Recruit? Check.
(Early)2018 Five-Star Recruit? Check.
U.S. Army All-American? Check.
Gatorade National Player of the Year? Check.
CIF Division 1-A State Champion? Check.
Heir to the USC quarterback throne? Check.
The heralded signal caller had a historic junior campaign at Mater Dei(Anaheim,Calif.) going undefeated and throwing for 4,123 yards and 52 touchdowns—bringing the Monarchs their first National Championship since the 1990’s.
How did it start?
With critics saying Daniels possessed limited mobility outside of the pocket during his sophomore year the season before.
Daniels didn’t take the criticism lightly and now those judgement are a thing of the past. During the 2016-2017 season, Daniels rushed for 37 yards and two touchdowns. Flash-forward to the 2017-2018 season, he rushed for a whopping 561 yards and nine touchdowns.
The increased mobility is half of the reason Daniels was such a wow factor this season, the other half being his college ready precision and arm strength down the field. Out of 365 passes, only four of those were interceptions. Insane.
During his career at Mater Dei he also passed Matt Barkley, Matt Leinart, and Sam Darnold in yards and touchdowns setting Orange County records—a feat that Monarchs head coach Bruce Rollinson credits to Daniels’ love of the mental side of football.
Not a single high school defense was able to best Daniels and Mater Dei this year, and not a single one will be able to best him next year.
With no room in his locker for any more awards, Daniels will end his high school career as a national champion, reclassifying to graduate in 2018 and getting a crack at the USC quarterback position.
Oh, and he’s bringing favorite target and fellow Monarch five-star receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown with him.
Before committing to USC, Daniels boasted offers from Stanford, Michigan, and Washington, as well as countless other programs.
How did the Trojans get a signed letter of intent from the nation’s top passer? The relationship with USC started earlier than one would think.
Thanks to Tom Loy at 247Sports, Daniels revealed that he had first met then offensive coordinator Clay Helton, when he was just a seventh grader playing in a 7-on-7 tournament.
Daniels referenced how Helton gave each player the same amount of time and respect, and to a seventh grade quarterback, having one of the country’s top coordinators engage with him meant a great deal.
Once he got to high school, the offers started flooding in, and for a time it looked like the cardinal and white of Stanford were the colors he was going to wear, but the character of one offensive coordinator turned head coach at USC, made Daniels see gold.
Daniels committed to the Trojans on July 30, and held firm in his pledge throughout his final year at Mater Dei.
With USC quarterback Darnold declaring early for the NFL Draft, Daniels is the fan favorite to lead the Trojans down the field on Saturdays, and after watching the National Championship this year, everyone knows what a true freshman is capable of doing.