When the Trojans open their season against UNLV Sept. 1, there will be one connection that everyone will be looking out for -- that of freshmen and former high school teammates, quarterback JT Daniels and wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown.
While coaches haven't announced a starting quarterback and it's not yet clear how big a role St. Brown will play in the offense, this is the beginning of a connection that we might be watching for the next four years.
So let the games begin.
The story with these players and how they'll end up playing together is every bit as interested as each player individually. They're high caliber athletes and are every bit as intriguing off the field.
Let's take a look below to key in on some points to know about what has the potential to quickly become the hottest tandem in college football.
JT Daniels Recruited Amon-Ra St. Brown to Play With Him in High School
You probably know that JT Daniels and Amon-Ra St. Brown played for the same high school team -- but this was no mere accident or coincidence.
Both were high-level players in high school, which, especially in Southern California, openly happens when you put the work in to become a better football player year-round. They met each other at an offseason 7-on-7 camp, which is something players of their caliber participate in to get an edge, receive high-level coaching and build their recruitment profile.
When Daniels saw how St. Brown, then getting reps at running back and linebacker, operated on the field, he had to play with him in the regular season. He noticed St. Brown's work ethic, mental strength and the way he approaches the game, and took it upon himself to tell his dad that they need to do whatever they can to get him over to Mater Dei High School so they can do something special as teammates.
They lit it up on the field with each other, to the tune of an undefeated season, California state football championship and number 1 national high school ranking.
Daniels took it upon himself to reclassify and graduate a year early -- potentially to get more college playing time with St. Brown, who is a year ahead academically.
They're both 5-Star recruits and helped each other get there, so it's clear that they know the game and respect each other's games.
Both Players Are High-Level Thinkers
Play on the field aside, the mental part of life is where these athletes shine.
Daniels walks around with a notebook and is adamant about learning details thoroughly, monitoring his own thoughts and getting the most out of the 24 hours he has each day. This is evidenced by the fact that he graduated a full year early by doubling down on his academic load his junior year through night classes and online classes.
Prior to doing this, he had a 4.2 GPA, and it dropped to a 3.6 GPA, partially by design. Daniels said he focused on getting good grades but allowed himself some grace due to the fact that he was juggling an insane workload, along with helming the quarterback position at the best high school program in the country.
This ability to stay on schedule, leaving himself very little time for anything outside of school and football, while doing it all at high levels shows incredibly mental toughness and discipline. Daniels also adopted Buddhism after feeling an emptiness in his life, despite having all of the accolades and achievements a kid his age could ever ask for.
He practices this ancient eastern philosophy in all aspects of life and said that it has helped him become a better football player.
St. Brown is no slouch either.
Not only does he speak three languages fluidly, he maintained a 4.0 GPA throughout high school and has maintained a disciplined, high-level strength and conditioning program since the age of 5. In fact, St. Brown has said that he and his brothers, also Division 1 wide receivers with all of the same accolades, said that other kids would tease that they must have been built in a laboratory.
Since both Daniels and Amon-Ra possess similar mental makeups, it's only right that they would quickly hit it off and align themselves. As Daniels put it, he knew he had a "dog" he could go to war with as soon as he met St. Brown.
They Both Have Insatiable Work Ethics and Always Have
Natural gifts are one thing, but Daniels and Amon-Ra honed their abilities in the dark, where all of the weights, film study and drills eventually tell the story.
As Daniels put it, he realizes that his entire high school football career boiled down to only 11% time spent on the field playing actual games. The other 89% boiled down to the work that happens off the field.
Realizing this, Daniels said that he learned to love and appreciate every aspect of it, rather than just the time spent playing games.
St. Brown possesses a similar work ethic since he's the son of a decorated bodybuilder. From the time he was a grade school kid, his dad had St. Brown and his brothers on a high-level strength and conditioning program, along with nutrition to help them get the most out of their athleticism, strength building, and recovery.
This is why they play with the accuracy, attention to detail and precision that made them both 5-star recruits.
Their Parents Sacrificed and Gave Them the Tools to Become the Best Early
If their upbringings are any indication, they had tremendous support from their family to get where they are.
St. Brown dedicated a great deal of sacrifice to help his sons reach their dreams of becoming professional football players, and helped them find the coaching and instruction needed to make this happen. Daniels' dad took two years off from his own career so that his son could get out to all of the top camps on 7-on-7 leagues to see how he measures up against the best players in the country.
With these variables in mind, expect the continuity and chemistry to be strong with these two when they kick off their season Sept. 1.