The reunion between a quarterback and an offensive coordinator is generally an NFL phenomenon, but West Virginia’s offense hopes to reap those benefits in 2022.
When Graham Harrell took over USC’s offense in 2019, he inherited JT Daniels, one of the most-anticipated sophomore quarterbacks in the country. Daniels, a five-star recruit out of Santa Ana, California, instead was knocked out of the rotation when he tore his ACL in the season opener.
Three years later, after a stint with Georgia, Daniels has reunited with his old offensive coordinator at West Virginia, and Harrell indicated they were able to pick up where they left off.
“He’s very intelligent and…he’s very even-keel…and I think because of that, coaching him, he doesn’t change much,” Harrell said. “It’s very similar to the way he was before, he’s always been intelligent and understands football very well, and I think now maybe he understands it a little better.”
According to the transfer quarterback, Harrell was a “big part” of Daniels’s decision to join the Mountaineers. Daniels has spent the last several months since his June enrollment at WVU getting acclimated to his team and the University City (which he called “dope”). His acclimation to his new offensive scheme, however, is much easier.
Daniels is also a tad unlike any other WVU quarterback to get a start under Neal Brown. Although he matches Austin Kendall and Jarret Doege in height at 6-2, he is by far the bulkiest signal caller with a shot at starting at a listed 226 pounds.
“Unique is a good way to describe JT, probably,” Harrell said.
The junior hasn’t earned the starting job, but Las Vegas already has Daniels as a longshot contender for the Heisman Trophy. His stats can tell you why — he has 4,840 passing yards and 32 touchdowns in his career, with a 2:1 TD/INT ratio to boot.
That experience was earned in both the Pac-12 and the SEC, and paired with his physical tools, has some pundits thinking that WVU could become a contender with his addition (if, of course, he earns the starting job.). Daniels boasts a wide wingspan that Harrell says helps give the quarterback a “natural whip to [his body] and helps spin the football.”
Additionally, Daniels’s skillset is conducive to modern quarterback play. In the era of Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers, quarterbacks emphasized keeping the highest arm angle when throwing the ball. That is changing with the emergence of dynamic stars like Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen, who can move and throw from various arm slots.
“With the evolution of the game of football, I think arm angles have changed and throwing from different slots has become a positive instead of a negative,” Harrell said. “I think it used to be a negative at times with quarterbacks, and now I think that people want that, and want you to be able to do that.”