ATHENS — JT Daniels’ sensational performance Saturday night triggered many to question why the USC transfer quarterback wasn’t used before in the Georgia lineup.
Steve Daniels — JT’s father — told DawgNation he’s not among those questioning Kirby Smart’s decisions.
JT Daniels gets second shot at college stardom with Georgia
“I was out here in August and saw JT in a scrimmage, and you could tell he wasn’t 100 percent,” Steve Daniels said, referring to the Aug. 29 closed scrimmage that Smart allowed parents to attend.
“You could see it in JT’s throws, he wasn’t able to get the same velocity on some of his passes, and that’s one of the things that separates him, is his accuracy.”
Smart said much of the same thing after Daniels was 28-of-38 passing for 401 yards with four touchdowns in the 31-24 win over Mississippi State, his UGA debut.
“The biggest thing,” Smart said on his postgame show, was “just being healthy and being able to move.”
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Daniels had his initial surgery the day after suffering a torn ACL and meniscus in USC’s 2019 season-opening game on Aug. 31, 2019, and then he had a clean-up procedure performed in January.
Smart had Daniels working with the first team at the start of fall camp, along with Wake Forest grad transfer Jamie Newman, even though Daniels was still in a heavy knee brace.
The thought, Smart said at the time, was that Daniels would be cleared for the opening game against Arkansas. When he wasn’t cleared, Georgia went with D’Wan Mathis and Stetson Bennett.
Steve Daniels explained why the family did not second-guess, even though he knew his son was eager to play at Georgia after selecting the Bulldogs over the likes of Washington, Michigan and Tennessee.
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“As parents, Ali and I feel blessed to be at a place like Georgia with a coach like Kirby, who put our son’s health first and foremost,” Steve Daniels said. “Kirby didn’t rush him or put him out there too soon, and that’s why you come to a place like this, for this kind of support.
“Look at the support Kirby and the staff gave D’Wan Mathis the year before.”
Indeed, Mathis’ emergency brain surgery in May of 2019 and inspiring recovery and return to football has been well-documented.
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Steve Daniels and Terence Mathis, D’Wan’s father, bonded quickly in what Smart often refers to as the program’s football family.
Daniels, like Mathis, is originally from Detroit. He didn’t move to Southern California until later in life.
“We’re ecstatic to be part of the Georgia family and to see where this can go,” Steve Daniels said. “We have the talent and the right system to do great things, so let’s go.”
Indeed, and the outlook is for the Bulldogs to go very far back up in the rankings and win out this season, taking the offense into the future.
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