Unless you were living under a rock or in a submarine yesterday without the news, you have heard and seen that quarterback JT Daniels has committed to West Virginia for at least 2022. Daniels, a former five start, number two ranked pro-style quarterback, is the heir apparent to start at quarterback this season for the Mountaineers and now, with this commitment, he raises the bar of expectations for head coach Neal Brown, significantly.
To say the last three years have been underwhelming would be the least of adjectives to describe the progression of Brown’s time at West Virginia. Like a horse with a bad foot, Brown’s teams have never really gotten out of the gate, in part because of the play of the quarterback position. While West Virginia had a four-star transfer in Austin Kendall, Kendall suffered a hand injury early and then later on in the season that affected his ability to throw the ball. Jarret Doege had the experience of a starter but a lack of mobility and ineffective offensive line often hindered his ability to make passes. None of that should matter now.
With Daniels, and new offensive coordinator Graham Harrel, at the helm of the offense the bar for 2022 skyrockets upward. No longer should the expectation be to just make things better and get above the 6 win mark that Brown has yet to eclipse at West Virginia, but talk of a Big 12 Championship isn’t off the table. If you lined up the quarterbacks and ranked them, where does Daniels rank? #1? 2? Maybe 3 depending on how you choose to decide but certainly you wouldn’t drop Daniels lower than third best starting quarterback in the Big 12. If you have the third best starting quarterback in the Big 12, along with an experienced defensive line, improved wide receiver corp, improved running back room, and improved and experienced offensive line, is 6-7 wins all you expect? It is all you should expect?
If you ask Daniels’ father, that answer is no, and he elaborated on all of this when he spoke with 247Sports.
“The relationship with Graham Harrell set the stage,” the elder Daniels told 247Sports’ Tom Loy. “Between Graham and Neal Brown, we feel like we have everything we need at West Virginia. They feel like they have a quarterback that can help them win games, not just manage them. JT can do that in this offense. He felt comfortable with the staff. He felt there was plenty of talent there to win. They took him in, they have this analytics dude. They have all these ratings for all the players. They said that JT comes in and is among the best QBs in the Big 12. It takes them from roughly 6 wins to 10 wins at minimum. That was big. He wants to win a championship and now they know the Big 12 title is now attainable.”
So the staff and its analytics team tells Daniels’ that his presence alone raises the team from 6 wins to 10 wins. When and where those 10 wins comes determines a Big 12 Championship but does Daniels alone give West Virginia a chance to finally best Oklahoma and put itself in position for that championship? What about Oklahoma State, who has also been a thorn in the side of the Mountaineers?
The qualities that Daniels’ possesses are those that Harrel has talked about previously when he has discussed what is important to him in a quarterback. Decision making. Accuracy. Footwork. The ability to stretch the field. Daniels has all of those tangible and intangible qualities to be a great quarterback and now Neal Brown has his quarterback, too. The bar has been raised.