Mountaineer football fans had come to dread the transfer portal.
The opportunity for athletes to transfer to another school without sitting out a year had turned into an exit ramp. Twenty players had left the program since the start of last season.
Those transfers included names fans had come to know—Akheem Mesidor, Daryl Porter, Jr., Winston Wright, Josh Chandler-Semedo and Nicktroy Fortune, to name a few.
Mountaineer Nation needed a lift, some hope, a reason for optimism heading into head Coach Neal Brown’s fourth season.
That hope was delivered this week when ESPN’s Pete Thamel reported that a player who was once the most sought after quarterback recruit in the country is coming to WVU. “The winding collegiate career of quarterback J.T. Daniels has turned onto a country road.”
“Going up and down the roster, I feel like they have very, very good pieces everywhere,” Daniels told Thamel. “It feels like a great fit for a quarterback.”
Daniels has played all or parts of four seasons at two schools and has yet to find that fit.
The one-time five-star recruit began at USC where he started as a true freshman, passing for fourteen touchdowns with ten picks. However, he suffered a serious knee injury in the first game of the following year and missed the rest of the season.
Daniels transferred to Georgia, where he started the last four games of the 2020 season and entered 2021 as a Heisman Trophy favorite. However, injuries to his oblique and lat muscles sidelined him again.
Now Daniels has yet another chance to fulfill the high expectations and once again be considered an NFL draft pick. But he will have to avoid more injuries. “The number one thing is that I can stay healthy,” he told ESPN.
WVU needed an experienced quarterback. Daniels needed a fresh start. On paper, it’s a perfect fit.
I imagine Neal Brown will say that Daniels must win the position. However, you don’t recruit a player with Daniels’ experience to have him as a reserve behind WVU’s three current quarterback contenders (Will Crowder, Garrett Greene and Nicco Marchoil) who have never started a college game. That will be sorted out on the practice field and in coaches’ meetings.
But meanwhile, fans have something to latch on to. Naturally, judgement of Daniels, Brown and the Mountaineer program will depend upon wins and losses this season. But this single transfer—the most significant one of Brown’s tenure—has for the moment, at least, changed the narrative for the better.
Suddenly, the transfer portal doesn’t look so bad after all.