The decision to add JT Daniels to the roster back in May is certainly looking smart right now. Daniels started 12 games for USC in 2018 and 2019. He hasn’t yet been fully cleared after sustaining a torn ACL and other knee damage in the season opener against Fresno State in the 2019 season opener, but that’s expected to come before the start of the 2020 season. It hasn’t affected his ability to prepare thus far because he’s waiting on clearance for contact and the Bulldogs, like every other program in the country, don’t hit the quarterback in practice.
Conventional wisdom places him as the No. 1 with over three weeks of preseason practice left, but it may not be a given. Dawgs247’s Rusty Mansell reported recently that redshirt freshman D’Wan Mathis got off to a strong start in preseason camp and turned some heads right away. In talks with sources after the Newman news broke on Wednesday, other contacts have indicated the same. The UGA staff is very excited about his potential. He has some physical attributes that you just can’t teach.
Daniels is still not fully cleared for contact as he continues to rehabilitate from the torn ACL he suffered at USC almost exactly a year ago. If the Bulldogs training staff gives him the all-clear at some point this month, though, he will presumably take the first snap of the 2020 season for Georgia when the Bulldogs play at Arkansas on Saturday, Sept. 26. It’s a remarkable twist of fate for Daniels and Georgia, and it could have an impact on the wider college football landscape, depending on which version of Daniels shows up under center for the Bulldogs.
If it’s a hobbled version who’s not adequately acquainted with a new offensive system, then you can go ahead and crown Florida as the SEC East champion. But if the Bulldogs get a healthy version of Daniels, their ceiling is arguably just as high or even higher than it would have been with Newman, and an SEC title and College Football Playoff berth will be within Georgia’s grasp…
You can see why the knee-jerk reaction is to immediately crown Florida as the new division champion. But it all comes down to Daniels, his health and his grasp of what Monken wants to do.
All just a reminder that Smart restocked the cabinet in the quarterback room after last season. I don’t know how things will turn out, but at the moment nobody can say Georgia is out of working options.