J.T. Daniels on UGA: ‘At this point, I feel like I’ve been here for years’

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J.T. Daniels on UGA: ‘At this point, I feel like I’ve been here for years’

JT Daniels #18 of the Georgia Bulldogs drops back to pass during the 2020 Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl NCAA football game between the Georgia Bulldogs and Cincinnati Bearcats, Jan. 1, 2021, in Atlanta. (Jason Parkhurst via Abell Images for the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl)
JT Daniels #18 of the Georgia Bulldogs drops back to pass during the 2020 Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl NCAA football game between the Georgia Bulldogs and Cincinnati Bearcats, Jan. 1, 2021, in Atlanta. (Jason Parkhurst via Abell Images for the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl)

Approximately 30 minutes after the conclusion to Georgia’s 24-21 win over Cincinnati in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, quarterback J.T. Daniels, head coach Kirby Smart and a few other players met with the media via Zoom to discuss the game.

Daniels was asked about his thoughts on the culture of UGA football and about his experience since arriving in Athens. The Southern Cal transfer didn’t shy away from the question and stated that he feels right at home in the Peach State.

“At this point, I feel like I’ve been here for years,” Daniels said. “Instantly when I came in I felt a connection with the team, a connection with the way this program is run is the way I would say it. We’re all about ball. It’s something you can say about pretty much the whole team, is that everyone just loves football.”

Daniels said that his teammates helped make the transition easier on him, especially during a global pandemic.

“We’re here to do our thing and be the best players we can be,” Daniels said. “Every single day, every single practice, Malik Herring, Zeus (Zamir White), George (Pickens), everyone goes out and practices to their best ability every single day with a focus on getting better. Over the last two and a half months, I’ve really just enjoyed the time of being with like-minded guys that are all about work, all about ball, all about competing.”

Daniels has been in Athens since June after he announced he was transferring in late May. The redshirt sophomore came in and competed with graduate transfer Jamie Newman, who eventually opted out of the season two weeks prior to the opener against Arkansas. Daniels was splitting reps with the first team around that time, although he still hadn’t been cleared to play yet because he was coming off a pair of knee surgeries.

The Mater Dei High School prospect suffered a season-ending injury in USC’s home opener against Fresno State in 2019 and was surpassed on the depth chart by backup Kedon Slovis. That’s when Daniels decided to enter the transfer portal and how he ended up at Georgia. He was finally cleared to play after that Arkansas game but didn’t make his first start until Nov. 21 against Mississippi State.

Watch a fullscreen slideshow HERE.

In his UGA debut, Daniels threw for 401 yards and four touchdowns, which is a feat that hadn’t been done by any Bulldog quarterback since Aaron Murray did in 2013. Including MSU, he would start the next three games, and throw for a combined total of 1,231 yards, 10 touchdowns and two interceptions in that time span. That’s an average of 307 passing yards and nearly three touchdowns in just four starts.

Heading into next season, Georgia could have one of the most electrifying offenses in the country. On Tuesday afternoon, Daniels tweeted that he would be officially returning to Athens for the 2021 season, which calmed Dawg Nation. Several minutes later, junior running back James Cook followed by confirming his return for next year. Those two have grown extremely close since Daniels’ arrival and both could be driving forces in Georgia’s offense next season.

Daniels said that Cook was one of the first players to reach out to him when he announced he would transfer to UGA.

James and I have been very close since I got here,” Daniels said. “I remember when I posted my commitment to Georgia, Cook hit me right away. I got in contact with him. He was one of the first people I buddied up with. He’s been like a brother to me since I got here…”

Those two along with Kenny McIntosh, Kendall Milton, George Pickens, Jermaine Burton, Darnell Washington and many more under the direction of offensive coordinator Todd Monken could be a force to be reckoned with.

According to Monken, to have a guy like Daniels as the head signal-caller is important for the program and offense moving into next season.

“As we’re able to move forward, a guy like JT, who is certainly capable of distributing the ball, understanding where we want to go with the football,” Monken said last week. “It’s an exciting time, especially for me. Hopefully, we’ll have a chance to have a legit off-season, be able to study what we did, what the difference is that we want to change as we move forward.”

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Currently an intern for BI, and a junior journalism major at the University of Georgia.