112021 Athens: Georgia head coach Kirby Smart and quarterback JT Daniels confer during the second quarter against Charleston Southern in a NCAA college football game on Saturday, Nov. 20, 2021, in Athens. “Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com”

JT Daniels enters NCAA transfer portal, SEC schools, Notre Dame among potential destinations

ATHENS — Georgia quarterback JT Daniels became a documented portal entry on Wednesday, as expected, and will be looking to commit to a school he can transfer to after graduating from UGA in the spring.

Daniels, who transferred to Georgia from USC before the 2020 season, will be eligible to play in 2022 as a graduate transfer. Among the schools that might seem to be potential destinations are Notre Dame, LSU, Texas A&M, Missouri, Ole Miss, Penn State and Colorado.

RELATED: Daniels expected in portal, background on why he’s leaving

The 6-foot-3, 210-pound Daniels was 7-0 as Georgia’s starting quarterback, including the 2021 season-opening win over a Clemson team that finished second in the nation in scoring defense, and a South Carolina defense that allowed the fewest passing yards per game in the SEC.

Daniels suffered a pectoral injury last August in UGA’s final scrimmage and played the game against Clemson wearing a flak-jacket. Daniels experienced pain the day after the win over the Tigers and was diagnosed with a strained oblique muscle, leading him to miss the second game of the season.

Daniels returned to start Games 3 and 4 against South Carolina and Vanderbilt, going a combined 32-of-41 for 432 yards 5 touchdowns and an interception in what amounted to one full game. He played three quarters in the 40-13 blowout win over the Gamecocks and ran up a 35-0 first quarter leader over Vandy before coming out with a strained lat.

Coach Kirby Smart turned the offense back over to Bennett, and UGA adjusted its scheme to fit Bennett’s strengths.

Smart seemed more comfortable with a higher run-pass ratio more in line with what he had used the majority of his first five seasons. Bennett’s mobility played into a play-action game that featured high-percentage throws to backs and tight ends, with “shot” plays downfield when teams brought defenders too close to the line of scrimmage or offered advantageous matchups.

Daniels missed three games before being cleared to play again, with Smart leading fans, media and the players to believe there was still competition at the position.

“I’m not sure we know who the better one is based on which game plan we have,” Smart told ESPN.com reporter Chris Low in an exclusive interview last October. “There are teams we play that we have to be able to use the quarterback in the run game. Well, that’s Stetson. There are teams we play that you have to get the ball out quickly and be really accurate. That’s JT.”

Instead, Bennett played almost exclusively, even after struggling against Florida, in the SEC Championship Game and the first half of the CFP title game.

Smart cited “rhythm” for keeping Bennett on the field, the more deliberate, play-action-based offense Bennett ran complimented the defense better, and enabled the Bulldogs to make the best use of the talent after some of the team’s top receivers began the year sidelined or battling nagging injuries.

The next team Daniels plays for will likely look to take advantage of the same things Monken identified in Daniels when he and Smart hand-picked him out of the NCAA transfer portal in April of 2020, from his football acumen to his NFL arm talent, field vision and leadership skills.

No doubt, Daniels hit the scene last year in his first outing with a 401-yard passing performance in a 31-24 win over Mississippi State in the seventh game of the 2020 season.

Former Georgia all-time great Eric Zeier was among many who predicted greatness for Daniels, his trained eye seeing the traits of the NFL talent, and his ear to the ground catching vibes of the California quarterback’s leadership.

“He’s not a guy that will run a 4.4 (-second) 40 but he’s athletic. He can make every throw and he has the attitude that he’s gonna take shots when you give him shots, and everybody is feeding off that.”

Daniels appeared to be the most talented Georgia passer since Matthew Stafford, and he showed more mobility last spring after having a clean-up procedure performed on his knee following the 2020 season. Daniels, of course, never got to show that mobility on Saturday’ because of the series of injuries related to his upper-body core muscles.

Daniels was the only Georgia quarterback to be voted a team captain last season, and he’ll likely assume that role at his next stop.

The Bulldogs have had the sort of attrition expected this offseason with players heading to the NFL, and players who either weren’t seeing playing time or have missed playing time on account of injuries heading to the NCAA transfer portal.

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