In January, JT Daniels was parading through Athens, Georgia as a national champion with the Georgia Bulldogs. Eight days later, the former five-star quarterback prospect entered the transfer portal, ultimately choosing West Virginia in April.
Daniels made his first public appearance as a Mountaineer on Monday at the Diversified Energy football clinic alongside several teammates. There, it was clear his competitive spirit was alive and that he was starting to mesh with his teammates.
“Especially when you have as many of us as we had out here today, Mike [O’Laughlin], Sam James, Bryce Ford-Wheaton, all of us having fun and competing with [campers],” Daniels said. “You know, it’s a good time.”
Daniels has been in Morgantown for about a month and says it’s been a smooth transition thus far. He has spent most of his time at team facilities getting to know everybody and preparing for the fall. On the first day, he says he was already gabbing with his wide receivers and playing Madden, and since then, he has made it a priority to spend time with his teammates.
A native of Santa Ana, California, even his move to Morgantown itself has been easy coming from Athens. He called the city “dope,” but admitted he has only seen it during the quieter part of the calendar.
Daniels moved to WVU after his second trip through the transfer portal. He had a breakout season as a freshman at USC in 2018, but missed most of his sophomore year with an injury. After just one appearance that season, he lost his starting job and entered the portal in the spring 2020.
With the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, he had to hit the recruiting trail virtually.
Two years later, he was on the move again, albeit with a championship ring on his finger. His second time around was more enjoyable, though, as he could see his potential new teams in person.
“It was easier this time because my first time was straight start of COVID, so everything was Zoom and over the phone, so I didn’t have any face-to-face interaction,” Daniels said. “It was cool, this time Coach Graham [Harrell] got to come to my house and I got to see him again.”
Harrell, WVU’s offensive coordinator, called the offense for Daniels at USC and was added to Neal Brown’s staff a week before Daniels entered the portal. The addition quickly saw dividends, as Daniels noted that his familiarity with Harrell was a “big part” of his decision to join the Mountaineers.
Daniels also picked West Virginia because of his experience with the program during his visit.
“Just coming out for a practice and seeing the roster, there’s plenty of talent, it’s a great team,” Daniels said. “Being around the culture, there are a lot of good things at West Virginia right now.”
Daniels also hopes that he can shake the injury bug at West Virginia. In four years of college football, he has played just 20 out of 50 possible games due to injury. Daniels only logged double-digit appearances during his freshman season and played in five games during Georgia’s championship run in 2021-22.
The quarterback has shown promise in that small sample size, though, throwing for 4,840 yards, 32 touchdowns and 16 interceptions with a completion percentage of 63.8. He also hasn’t lost in an appearance since 2018.
“I don’t know if [staying healthy] is the biggest biggest [goal], but it kind of is,” Daniels said. “It’s an old saying, but availability is your best ability…it is very important to me.”