USC quarterback and former five-star recruit JT Daniels formally entered the transfer portal this week, creating what should wind up being one of the most sought-after transfer recruitments of the offseason. Of course, anytime a quarterback hits the transfer market, people joke about the Michigan Wolverines getting involved due to Jim Harbaugh’s work there since he arrived in Ann Arbor.
Since Harbaugh took the job in 2015, he has never been shy about adding an arm to the quarterback room from players outside the building. It started with Jake Rudock and John O’Korn in 2015, then Shea Patterson after the 2017 season ended. This was a necessity because the talent at the position was minimal when he arrived, but the program is finally in a position to let two of its own duke it out for the job in Dylan McCaffrey and Joe Milton heading into the 2020 season.
That said, Sam Webb of The Michigan Insider is reporting that there is interest from Daniels in the Wolverines ($) in what should be a recruitment that sees a ton of schools lining up. It remains to be seen if the Wolverines get involved here,
It might worth a phone call, albeit with careful consideration on what it could mean for the future.
Daniels was a five-star recruit and the No. 16 player in the country in the 2018 recruiting class, according to the 247Sports Composite and the No. 2 pro-style quarterback. The outlet’s own rankings had Daniels ranked as the sixth-overall player in the nation, so there’s plenty of talent here.
Daniels started as a true freshman at USC and threw for 2,672 yards, 14 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. In the first game of his sophomore season (2019), Daniels tore his ACL while being sacked and would be out for the season, replaced by Kedon Slovis. Slovis would wind up being the Pac-12’s Freshman of the Year and looks somewhat locked in as USC’s starter. With that in mind, Daniels entered the portal, though it seems like the door is not completely closed on his return.
The case for the addition of Daniels for any interest team is a fairly simple pitch. You would be looking to add a former elite recruit who has already proved he can play Power Five football and potentially have as many as three years of eligibility remaining, and it is likely those three years could start immediately depending on what the NCAA rules on a one-time transfer waiver in late May.
Harbaugh has always been willing to take a chance to upgrade the floor of the quarterback room, but would this be an appropriate time for that? Because Daniels is reportedly interested, it might not hurt to at least place the phone call and see what he is looking for, but Harbaugh and his staff would have to seriously consider the ramifications it could have on the room.
McCaffrey and Milton are entering their fourth and third seasons with the program, respectively. They have waited their turn for a shot and the battle has already been adversely affected by the lack of spring football. To add another body to the quarterback room might skew a potential starting battle between the two might take away from what feels like a fair shot at two Harbaugh recruits to seriously fight for the job for the first time in his tenure. Because both guys have multiple years of eligibility remaining, it feels like the man who loses the job may wind up transferring, anyways.
Would it be going out on a limb to say that Daniels might be better than at least one of them? Probably not, which alone might be a reason why you look into it. Squeezing every possible drop you can out of the quarterback battle would only mean good things, but the risks are high, especially given a torn ACL with one of the variables.
Then there is looking to 2021 with a five-star quarterback JJ McCarthy coming in. Unless the man who wins the job this years goes off and winds up in the 2021 NFL Draft, it seems like we will have to wait until potentially 2022 to see him on the field, at the earliest. Bringing in a player with three years of eligibility remaining might put him in a position where he has to battle for his job, which is not the worst thing in the world but perhaps not the open window to playing time that McCarthy could imagine when he committed to Michigan. There would have to be careful consideration as to what another addition would mean for the future, as well.
Then again, Harbaugh and the Wolverines can only worry about the here and now. Setting themselves the best they can with a potentially loaded QB room of options raises the level of competition. We have long said that if this is a program set to take the next step, the quarterback quality of play must rise. You cannot let that scare you into being stagnant, either. Consider that three of the four College Football Playoff teams last season had transfer QBs in Justin Fields (Ohio State), Oklahoma (Jalen Hurts) and LSU (Joe Burrow). This is kind of the way it is right now and if a talented guy is interested in your program, you take the phone call and evaluate the situation.
Am I advocating for Michigan to hit the transfer portal again for quarterback help? No, not really. Like most, I think I’m ready to see the fruits of Harbaugh’s labor on the recruiting trail at the position and if this program can actually develop guys. We have only ever seen a handful of games of Brandon Peters back in 2017 as one of Harbaugh’s quarterback recruits. And to be fair, he played well before a concussion late in the season knocked him out. Unfortunately, he never was quite the same and transferred.
At the same time, if you want to be a program that does business like the blue bloods and contenders, there’s no reason to not look into a player like Daniels. Fear of transfers that did not reach their ceiling in the past should not dictate the future. Sometimes, guys just flip the switch.
Like Webb says in his piece, if it does not do much to affect the status of McCarthy, interest in Daniels feels worth it. It truly is time to see what Harbaugh can get out of the quarterbacks he recruited, but there should not be any fear in raising the floor of any position group — let alone the most important in college football.
Would you be on board with Michigan pursuing JT Daniels?
This poll is closed
Absolutely. It raises the floor of the QB room.
Yes, but only if it means not losing a promising prospect.
Leaning no if it means losing a recruited QB
Absolutely not. It’s time to let the Harbaugh recruits duke it out.