David Zalubowski/Associated Press
USC head coach Clay Helton is going with a true freshman at quarterback to begin the season as JT Daniels was named the Week 1 starter, per the team’s official account:
USC Trojans @USC_Athletics
OFFICIAL: @USCCoachHelton named true freshman @jtdaniels06 the USC starting quarterback. #FightOn https://t.co/uA5j73BMDX
According to Stadium’s Brett McMurphy, Daniels is only the second true freshman to start the season at quarterback for USC after Matt Barkley in 2009.
The 5-star prospect was considered the second-best pro-style quarterback in the 2018 class and the No. 16 overall player in the country, per 247Sports.
Despite Daniels’ obvious potential, he was involved in a three-way battle for the starting job throughout camp alongside redshirt freshman Jack Sears and redshirt sophomore Matt Fink.
Helton was also patient in choosing a replacement for Sam Darnold, delaying his announcement for another week.
“I wanted to continue the process because I want the guys to continue to compete,” he said on Tuesday, per the Associated Press (via ESPN.com). “They all need to progress. And I want to make sure that I’m right, too. Another week does not hurt to be able to put us in that situation. We’re getting plenty of work with all three, and I think it makes all three of them better players if called upon in the season.”
With none of the contenders having much game experience—only Fink has appeared in a college game and has thrown nine passes—the coach apparently went with the most talented player.
USC has one of the youngest offenses in the country now with several freshmen expected to play major roles and sophomore Stephen Carr likely to be a featured running back.
Still, expectations remain high for the Trojans in the upcoming season as a top contender in the Pac-12.