ATHENS – Hutson Mason admits he was as surprised as anyone last week when news dropped that former Southern Cal quarterback J.T. Daniels intended to transfer to Georgia.
“I wasn’t so much surprised he chose Georgia (over Tennessee and Michigan), I was more so surprised that Georgia wasn’t looking for another quarterback,” Mason, a former Bulldogs’ quarterback, told DawgNation.
“Kirby is in an interesting spot with Jake Fromm gone …. “
Interesting, for sure.
The Bulldogs return 80 percent of the production off a championship caliber defense while reloading on the other side of the football with offensive gurus Todd Monken and Matt Luke.
Daniels, should he be granted a waiver for immediate eligibility, would jump into a five-man quarterback derby.
Wake Forest graduate transfer Jamie Newman appears to be the favorite to start, but there’s also D’Wan Mathis (redshirt freshman), Carson Beck (freshman) and Stetson Bennett (redshirt junior).
Mason said he doesn’t think UGA’s tentative offensive blueprint would need to drastically change course with Daniels under center. USC has also run a Pro Style version of the spread with RPO concepts.
“One of the things I was surprised by when I was watching tape on him, he’s far more nimble and shifty and elusive in the pocket than I thought,’ Mason said. “I think he’s far more athletic than Jake ….
“That was the first thing that stuck out to me. I would see a clip where the pocket collapsed and would normally be a sack or a negative play last year for Jake, and for me, he gets out of. He turns what should be a sack into a 4-yard pickup, or he extends the play and makes something out of nothing.”
Mason said as much as he liked on tape, there’s a question if Daniels will possess the same mobility if he’s playing in a knee brace after suffering a torn ACL in last season’s opening game.
“I don’t know if he will be the same in the pocket and escape a lot of things because that knee brace is extremely restrictive on quarterbacks,” Mason said.
“I tried to wear one because a lot of offensive coordinators in college have the theory that they want their quarterback to wear one to protect their knee from the blind side.”
Quarterback injuries have become more common as the speed of the game has increased and more teams have spread the field.
Mason, himself, has experience attempting to play in a precautionary knee brace.
“I tried fiddling around with it a coupe springs, and I was like “I hate this,” it’s like a peg leg, you literally feel like you have one leg,” Mason said. “So that that was my concern if he’s coming off that knee injury and he has to wear a knee brace, will he ever be the nimble guy in the pocket that I saw on tape?”
Mason, who quarterbacked Georgia to a 10-3 record in 2014 and now provides analysts on Atlanta’s WCNN-AM 680 “The Fan,” went directly to the archives upon hearing Daniels was heading to Athens.
Hearing about a player is one thing, but seeing him and evaluating him in game action, is another.
Mason provided a video breakdown of Daniels on Twitter last week.
— Hutson Mason (@HMason14) May 29, 2020
“I believe the two most important traits are accuracy and tight windows, that’s why I chose that clip,” Mason said. “And, it was functional arm strength. A lot of people think arm strength is how far can you throw the ball in a straight line, and that’a a huge misconception.
“It’s more of when the pocket collapses, and you have a messy pocket, with somebody at your feet and you can’t step into the throw, do you still have enough functional arm strength to get the ball down the field?”
It has yet to be determined if Daniels will be seen on the field this season, as the will need the NCAA to grant him a waiver for immediate eligibility similar to the one Miami’s Tate Martell received when leaving Ohio State.
“I’m sure Kirby’s pitch was, ‘We are a quarterback position away from being a national champion,’ that’s what I believe Kirby’s pitch to him was,” Mason said. “That’s pretty enticing.
“I think the program is selling itself, and that was probably more of the angle. But I was surprised, because it seems like, man,“how much more room do you have for quarterbacks?”
Time will tell.
Georgia players have started arriving back on campus with voluntary workouts set to begin next Monday.
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