Posted on August 29, 2018 by: Tony Krikorian and Kyle Risko
USC Head Coach, Clay Helton, announced on Sunday that true freshman JT Daniels will be the starting quarterback for the Trojans in their home opener against UNLV. Daniels graduated from Mater Dei a year early to enroll at USC in hopes of earning the starting spot.
His wish came true.
And, so did ours.
Call us crazy. Call us out of our minds. Hell, even call us dumb. But, whatever you do, do not call us apathetic because Kyle literally cried about the announcement this morning. Have you ever seen a grown man cry over an 18 year old, supposed-to-be-high-school QB? It ain’t pretty. While the entire USC fanbase is losing their collective minds, we are taking that excitement to the next level and making an incredibly way-to-early prediction:
JT Daniels WILL win the Heisman before he leaves for the NFL, and here’s 4 reasons why:
1. His Resume: In order to see where someone is headed, sometimes you have to see where they came from. And boy was it a beautiful sight. JT Daniels was one of the most prolific high school quarterbacks ever. He started for three years (yes, even as a freshman) at Mater Dei High School in the powerful Trinity League. During his time there, he passed for over 12,000 yards and posted an incredible TD to INT ration (10.8 to 1) as he passed for 152 touchdowns and only 14 interceptions. He was also incredibly accurate as he posted a 68.2% career completion percentage and his last two years were both above 70%. He was 38-4 in his career and continually improved each year, capping off his last season at 15-0, including a dominating 52-21 performance in the state finals over De La Salle. For his efforts and big game presence, he was awarded the National Gatorade Male Athlete of the Year.
Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Kyle and Tony, too many stats.” This may be true (sorry we are numbers guys), but a kid with that type of success as a 15, 16 and 17 year old, shows that he has talent, leadership, decision making, and the ability to win – the perfect recipe for a Heisman winner.
2. His Mentality: Although it is a small sample size at this time, Daniels appears to have a good head on his shoulders. For starters, it takes a special type of person to want to graduate high school early. He did two years worth of classes, homework, and quizzes in one year. That takes some serious motivation, organization, and persistence. You can see this level of maturity in the way he answers questions from media personnel. Here’s what he said when he heard of the decision that he would start:
“I am honored that Coach Helton picked me as the starter. I understand this is a huge responsibility and I need to work hard to be prepared to handle it. It was a tight competition between all the quarterbacks throughout camp. We pushed each other every day. I felt like Coach’s decision wouldn’t be wrong whoever he picked. I am thankful to Matt and Jack and Holden for teaching me so much and helping me adjust to the system so that I could quickly get into the flow of things, and I know we will continue to be supportive teammates in the quarterback room.”
Humble. Grateful. Ready.
So wise for a youngster. He’s like a miniature Buddha dressed in a USC helmet and shoulder pads. Funny we mention that actually, because apparently Daniels has immersed himself into Buddhism. He has made a commitment to cultivating wisdom, both about life and being a quarterback. He is wise beyond his years, both in the way he thinks and the way he processes the game. Therefore, his mentality is the perfect fit for someone who has incredibly high expectations and big shoes to fill in replacing Sam Darnold.
As Buddha said, “What we think, we become.” We think we will win a Heisman. And by “we”, we mean you, JT.
3. Amon-Ra St. Brown: Every Heisman QB needs a go-to guy. Look back at USC’s previous Heisman winners and finalists. Carson Palmer had Mike Williams. Matt Leinart had Dwayne Jarrett and Steve Smith (as well as Reggie Bush). And Matt Barkley, who was a Heisman finalist in 2011, had Robert Woods and Marqise Lee. They all had NFL caliber receivers who they developed great timing and connection with.
Although he is also only a freshman, Amon-Ra St. Brown will be that guy. He has shown he is a top receiver in camp, with his high level athleticism and play making ability. Daniels and St. Brown also played together at Mater Dei, so their chemistry and connection has already been established and will only get better as they mature and develop. This is going to be the next great tandem that USC fans talk about.
And the one that Daniels needs to win a Heisman.
4. The USC Program: It’s a fact that the Heisman Trophy winner needs to be the most dominant player on one of the best TEAMS in the country. Since the creation of the College Football Playoffs, 3 of the last 4 Heisman winners have been on a team that made it to the Final 4- the only exception being Lamar Jackson from Louisville, who went absolutely bonkers in 2016.
The Trojans are back on track to making the playoffs. USC has been hard at work on the recruiting trail and Daniels and St. Brown are the most recent examples of that. USC is just now back to full scholarship strength, which hurt them from a depth perspective up until last year. They have been top 5 in the nation and number one in the Pac-12 in recruiting class the last two years. Coach Clay Helton is in just his third full season as Head Coach and he has already garnered success, with the first two seasons ending in New Year’s Six bowls. Additionally, last year he led the Trojans to their first Pac-12 championship since the conference added Utah and Colorado.
With a stable and level-headed coach (who looks to be there for the long haul) and the resurgence of recruiting power, USC doesn’t look to be slowing down any time soon, which is great news for our Heisman hopeful.
So, there you have it-the indisputable reasons why JT Daniels will win the Heisman. Good luck, young buck. We are rooting for you.