Four months ago, USC was, if not an afterthought, no more than just another team on a long list of interested teams for J.T. Daniels.
Daniels, a junior at storied Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana, Calif., is widely considered to be the best quarterback prospect in the country for the Class of 2019. Alabama offered. So did Michigan. And Cal. And Stanford and Washington and Texas A&M and virtually every top program from every corner of the country.
USC simply blended in.
“Really my friend’s mom told me in April, you should really check out USC,” Daniels told TrojanSports.com. “And I was like, you know what, I will. They weren’t recruiting me too heavily. They had offered me but they never really came out and reached out to me at school or anything too much. They said hi to me here or there.”
Mater Dei’s longstanding pipeline of quarterbacks becoming Trojans didn’t have much of a pull for Daniels. It didn’t much matter to the 6-foot-2, 217-pound quarterback that Matt Barkley and Matt Leinart had both worn Mater Dei jerseys, and both turned those in for jerseys of gold and cardinal.
“It was weird because for the longest time, it was never my dream school, even though I’m a Mater Dei quarterback,” Daniels told TrojanSports.com. “USC did not pop to mind when I thought of schools.”
One visit changed that. Daniels said it felt like home at USC, and a few more visits confirmed that the Trojans had a spot in his top five among Michigan, Stanford and Washington. And on Sunday, July 30, just a few months after reconsidering USC, Daniels ended his recruitment early, stunning the Trojans and setting social media ablaze when he offered his verbal commitment to become Sam Darnold’s heir apparent.
“Consciously, I went with whatever school felt right in my heart,” Daniels told TrojanSports.com. “Obviously growing up in SoCal and being a SoCal kid, the SoCal-ness of USC is probably what made it feel at home.”