Kirby Smart presumes JT Daniels will be cleared, but unsure

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Kirby Smart presumes JT Daniels will be cleared, but unsure

Georgia quarterback JT Daniels (18) during the Bulldogs’ practice session in Athens, Ga., on Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2020. (Photo by Tony Walsh)
Georgia quarterback JT Daniels (18) during the Bulldogs’ practice session in Athens, Ga., on Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2020. (Photo by Tony Walsh)

After the departure of Jamie Newman, the Georgia quarterback competition is still going on, but USC transfer JT Daniels is now the favorite to win the job. Although, Daniels isn’t cleared for contact yet after suffering a torn ACL against Fresno State last season in the season opener while at USC.

Head coach Kirby Smart has confidence that he will be able to return, but says it’s not a given.

“I am under the assumption that that is going to happen but that is not my decision,” Smart said via Zoom after Saturday’s second preseason scrimmage.

Daniels suffered that injury and other damage to his knee just over a year ago. He’s been practicing with the team, but as of right now he wouldn’t be able to go.

“Basically that’s the medical decision. You know he’s cleared to practice which for quarterbacks is unique because they’re not out there getting hit every day. They’re non-contact. So we expect him to be cleared by the first game. But that’s not a complete certainty. I know Ron [Courson] feels confident that he’s far enough post-op and he has enough strength in his leg to be in a good position to be able to play. But that’s going to boil down to Ron and our doctors making that call.”

Georgia quarterback JT Daniels (18) during the Bulldogs’ practice session in Athens, Ga., on Friday, Aug. 28, 2020. (Photo by Tony Walsh)
Georgia quarterback JT Daniels (18) during the Bulldogs’ practice session in Athens, Ga., on Friday, Aug. 28, 2020. (Photo by Tony Walsh)

Daniels is a former five-star product and was apart of the Trojan’s 2018 recruiting class. He completed 59.5 percent of his passes for 2,672 yards, 14 touchdowns and 10 interceptions in 2018. That season he should have been in high school but he reclassified into the 2018 class after originally listed as a 2019 recruit.

Prior to that injury, Daniels started the 2019 season completing 25 of 34 passes for 215 yards a touchdown and interception. Then, Kedon Slovis took over and never looked back. That caused Daniels to explore other options in the transfer portal. He ended up picking UGA back in May, and it came as a surprise to many. The NCAA granted Daniels immediate eligibility and was supposed to be competing with Newman for the starting job until the news came earlier this week of his opt out.

Georgia has three other guys who are also contending for the job, even though Daniels has the most experience at the college level. Stetson Bennett IV is a fourth-year junior who has three games of experience under his belt and has been with UGA for two seasons. Redshirt freshman D’Wan Mathis, who has impressed coaches and teammates this preseason, is another contender. Lastly, freshman Carson Beck has been with the team since January and has been working hard for playing time.

Here is Smart’s interview:

Kirby Smart Presser – September 05, 2020

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