One of the biggest surprises of the College Football offseason occurred on Thursday afternoon when USC quarterback J.T. Daniels announced that he would enter his name into the NCAA Transfer Portal and weigh his options. Multiple teams are in the mix for Daniels, a former 5-star recruit, including LSU, Michigan, Florida State, Ole Miss, and Washington. Tennessee also has a chance for the highly-sought-after transfer due to his relationship with wide-receiver coach Tee Martin — who was Daniels’ co-offensive coordinator when he was a freshman.
According to Chris Hummer and Greg Biggins of 247Sports, the relationship with Martin could be big in Daniels’ decision. “Tennessee has a few things going for it in terms of familiarity thanks to the presence of Tee Martin, who served as Daniels’ co-offensive coordinator during his freshman season in Los Angeles,” Hummer and Biggins wrote. “The Vols are also far from set at quarterback. Jarrett Guarantano finished the 2019 season strong and Brian Maurer flashed some as a true freshman. But neither one of them truly took command of the offense. The Vols are looking to elevate a level in Year 3 under Jeremy Pruitt, and they have the offensive pieces to do so. What’s missing, as of now, is an elite quarterback. Daniels could be that presence for Tennessee, teaming up with Martin once again.”
Charles Power, a national analyst for 247Sports, also weighed in on the Vols’ chances through a tweet. “Tennessee is among the teams to watch with transfer quarterback J.T. Daniels,” wrote the Heisman voter. “The former 5-star has a relationship with Vols’ Tee Martin from his time at USC. (They) should have tons of interest, but one if a few (destinations) to watch per sources.”
Tennessee is among the teams to watch w/ transfer QB JT Daniels. The former 5star has a relationship w/ Vols' Tee Martin from his time at USC. Should have a ton of interest, but one of a few to watch per sources https://t.co/rNcd0JeyjK
— Charles Power (@CharlesPower) April 16, 2020
While Tennessee may appear as a favorable destination at first glance, the fact that the Vols’ quarterback room is already loaded may be a negative for them in Daniels’ recruitment. Tennessee already has five quarterbacks on scholarship, in addition to Kasim Hill, who is listed as a walk-on after transferring to Knoxville from Maryland earlier in the year. With Tennessee’s quarterback room already being slightly overcrowded, adding another body could force another player to transfer off of the roster.
Jesse Simonton, a senior writer for VolQuest.com illustrated this point in a tweet. “J.T. Daniels has immense talent, but it would be a strange marriage with Tennessee,” wrote Simonton. “The Vols just signed two quarterbacks, including 5-star Harrison Bailey. They’re currently over the 85 scholarship limit. Do you risk multiple transfers for a quarterback who might not be healthy enough to play in 2020?”
JT Daniels has immense talent, but it would be a strange marriage with Tennessee.
Vols just signed 2 QBs, including 5-star Harrison Bailey. They're currently over the 85 scholarship limit.
Do you risk multiple transfers for a QB who might not be healthy enough to play in 2020?
— Jesse Simonton (@JesseReSimonton) April 16, 2020
Daniels was injured in the first week of the 2019-20 College Football season in the Trojans match-up against Fresno State, forcing freshman quarterback Kedon Slovis into the spotlight for USC and struggling head coach Clay Helton. Slovis thrived, earning the Pac-12 Offensive Freshman of the Year award, and led USC to an 8-5 season, — saving head coach Clay Helton’s job (for the time being).
Helton also made it clear that he was not going to let Daniels leave without a fight, releasing a statement after the news of his quarterback emerged. “We have been working with J.T. and his family, as well as our compliance office, to help him navigate the process of entering his name into the transfer portal,” said the USC head coach. “It is his desire to explore all of his options going into the 2020-(21) season. We will continue to support J.T. in every way possible and help him through his decision, including the option of staying on with our football team. J.T. is a terrific person, student, player, and valued member of our football family.”
USC QB JT Daniels has put his name in the transfer portal.
— USC Trojans (@USC_Athletics) April 16, 2020
Daniels made 11 starts in 2018, throwing for over 2,500 yards, and 14 touchdowns. No timetable has been announced for a potential decision.