Canzano: Oregon State angles for a quarterback win in the JT Daniels sweepstakes
Will the Georgia transfer land in Corvallis next season?
Oregon State is in the running for Georgia quarterback transfer JT Daniels.
It’s only been five days since JT Daniels visited Oregon State. The Georgia quarterback and soon-to-be transfer plans to make a decision after spring football but the temperature amid the OSU fan base rose Monday when Beavers’ coach Jonathan Smith tweeted his customary recruiting rally cry.
Was the tweet announcing a commitment from Daniels, who is also considering West Virginia and Missouri?
Turns out, no.
It signaled that Jamious Griffin, a 210-pound running back transfer from Georgia Tech, is headed to Corvallis. He fills a need left by the departure of BJ Baylor, who declared for the NFL Draft. Griffin posted to his social media accounts on Monday, echoing Smith’s enthusiasm. It was a nice get for the Beavers, but now it’s Daniels I’m thinking about.
Daniels’ trip last Thursday to Corvallis went well by all accounts. His father accompanied him and they watched an Oregon State spring practice. He didn’t want to do a photo shoot or pose for a bunch of photographs. He was more interested in observing practice, examining the offensive philosophy and learning what Smith’s program wants from its quarterbacks.
Said a source who was present: “He is all about ball.”
I like OSU’s current stable of quarterbacks just fine, but it feels like the position group most in need of a major recruiting win for Smith. The Beavers’ coach played quarterback himself, has a high-rated play caller in Brian Lindgren, and has fortified his offensive line into an impressive unit.
Tristan Gebbia and Ben Gulbranson are coming off major injuries. Smith told me after the first two spring practices, “They’re throwing it pretty well.” Last season’s starter, Chance Nolan, made some mechanical adjustments in the offseason. That’s encouraging.
“We’ve got three guys that can play,” Smith said. “I feel like we’ve got a good room there.”
Add Daniels, though, and you really might have something next season.
The North Division of the Pac-12 Conference will feature two newly hired head coaches (Oregon and Washington) and a third coach who is in his first full season (Washington State). OSU has something that some don’t — continuity. It also possesses one of the best running games in the Pac-12. What the Beavers now need most is a quarterback capable of putting the offense on his shoulders at the end of a game and taking a team down the field.
Football is a quarterback-centric game. You don’t compete for division or conference championships without a good one.
Three-star signee Travis Throckmorton (6-foot-3, 205 pounds) is incoming. There’s also Jake Blair and Brady Huchingson. But Daniels — a west coast kid who previously hopped from USC to Georgia — would be a nice addition.
Oregon State is coming off an encouraging (7-6) season. But when I look back at the Beavers’ body of work last season I’m left thinking about inconsistency and missed opportunities in close losses.
Nolan threw for 158 yards and had two interceptions in a seven-point loss to Washington State. Against Colorado, an overtime defeat, he passed for 258 yards but OSU was one or two offensive plays away from pulling out a victory. The Beavers justifiably celebrated being bowl eligible but an eight or nine-win season was out there.
The mechanical fixes by Nolan are encouraging. Maybe he arrives at the season opener on Sept. 3 against Boise State improved and the Beavers win a pile of games next season. Or maybe Gebbia comes back from his knee injury and becomes the Pac-12’s top comeback player. But I’ll bet Smith would feel better with Daniels in the room.