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Georgia Bulldogs Quarterback JT Daniels Eager to Work With "Loaded Receiver Room"

April 6, 2021
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Georgia Bulldogs starting quarterback JT Daniels talks about Kirby Smart naming him the starter, losing George Pickens and why he’s been hanging out a lot with his dogs. 

What being a leader at QB means:

"First and foremost I think it starts with how you approach everything you do, especially as a veteran now. This is my fourth season of college football. I remember when I was coming in how I looked up to the older guys in the building and I can only imagine how the younger guys look up to the Lewis Cines and the people who have been here for awhile and have just played a lot of ball like myself. I think the first thing, it is how it starts with how you approach things.

"Then I think that it's also really important that I've been focused on is my overall body language and my mannerisms. Typically I've always been just more of a laid back kind of guy, especially on the field. I'm never a hype man.That's just not my thing, but I've put more effort into not just words of encouragement but trying to keep everyone focused and on task. If someone is not doing the right thing, I'm going to tell them they're not doing the right thing. If I'm not doing the right thing, someone is going to tell it to me and I have to take criticism the same way I dish it out. There's just a lot of areas of leadership that I've tried to take a step in."

On losing George Pickens - what was your reaction and what are you seeing from all of the guys having to step up?

“The first thing is you’ve got to be there for George the person more than George the player. As a person who’s torn his ACL and had a catastrophic knee injury, the first thing I did was to check in on him and make sure he’s OK. I think the biggest thing for him is his two biggest strengths I think are his confidence and his love of football. I think it’s going to be big for him and big on me to make sure he keeps those two things essential to him. In terms of other receivers, obviously, we have a loaded receiver room. It’s great to see some of the young guys, J-Rob, Jermaine before his little knee thing, D-Rob has been stepping up, Kearis is always Kearis.is always Kearis. You have a great receiver room and as much as you hate to lose George and you do, there’s no understating that, you’ve got a lot of guys that are going to work their butt off and try to develop and produce anyway they have.”

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On how he knows he has taken a leadership role and it is his team:

"I think it's something we talk about a lot as a team, that everybody on the team is a leader. Whether you've just joined and your a walk-on or you're Jamaree Salyer or you're Lewis (Cine) or you're (Ameer) Speed or any of them. Obviously your role expands the more you play and you just have a bigger platform in that area, but I think since I've been here I've always tried to take the approach of, first, leading by example. Then I think once you earn a certain level of trust from your teammates seeing how you work and knowing that you're here for them, you can start being more vocal and doing more things."

On being named the starter:

"The first thing is that it's really a great honor to be a starting Division I quarterback anywhere, especially at a program like Georgia and to hear from your coach that you do try really hard to show out for. It's something that's really cool to hear. It gives a little bit of confidence, a confidence booster, just to hear that your coach believes in you."

Have a chance to decompress after last season and if so where did you go, what did you do?
“I’ve still been here since I moved. I have not been back home so I’ve just kind of fully transitioned to living in Georgia, been hanging out with my dogs a lot and workouts started before you know it. Not much of like a decompress thing but that’s not something I’ve never really needed too much. I play the game because I love it and I don’t really need much time away from it."

How much a driver was winning national tittle to come back and how hard is it without Pickens?

“There’s no denying that we do want to win a (national title). I think we have the team to do it. Obviously losing George doesn’t help you, losing an elite, elite top-tier receiver doesn’t help you, but it’s a great team. Coach Smart has done a really good job of instilling a team standard and a team DNA that a lot of guys have really taken accustom to. There’s a lot of good things going for the team. As much as you hate to lose George there’s just things we’ve got to focus on and things we’ve got to develop because we have the team to do whatever we want.”

On Adonai Mitchell:

“I’m definitely a fan of AD. One thing I can say that jumped out to me initially when he first got here, and I had my throwing sessions with the receivers, he was a consistent show. He was there every time and liked to run. He’d get his conditioning in. Talking about how he plays, he’s got great twitch and is going to develop to become a great young player. We’ve just got to let him take his time and learn the system and do his thing, and I think he’ll be a good football player.”

On Brock Vandagriff:

“First with Brock, I really like Brock. Instantly we’ve had a great connection. We really have a great quarterback room where everyone’s really good friends, and really genuinely helps each other. Every time after a series in practice, a series in the game, I go to Stetson and Carson, ask them what they saw. It was the same thing when Stet was in. It’s the same thing that Carson has done when he comes and asks me stuff. Brock’s really taken to that. He asks a lot of questions. He asks to go over stuff with me. He wants to learn, and it’s great to see, just overall for the quarterbacks. It’s just a great room.”

What areas of your game have improved since last April?

“I would say last April to now, I would say the biggest thing, the game is definitely slowing down to a certain extent. I’ve gotten better at eliminating unnecessary things to look at pre-play. And something else I’ve been working on is decision-making and not making bad plays worse. Which is something that has always been a constant improvement for me that I always need to emphasize, is guys are gonna slip, someone’s gonna run the wrong route every now and then, someone’s gonna miss protection every now and then. And it’s on me not to make it worse and compound the mistake, and give a turnover. Incompletions aren’t bad. Throwaways aren’t bad. That’s probably the biggest thing I’m working on... the biggest thing I’ve noticed with the game slowing down a little bit and understanding where to go with the ball faster.”

On why so many players came back:

“I think there were a lot of guys who realize what we have and that we have the potential to get better. No. 1, we love to win, No. 2 we love to compete but also want to put themselves in as good of position as possible before they leave college.”

On unfinished business:

“Run it back was the mantra for our dog time - our 6 a.m. conditioning time. There’s definitely been a level of that as we’ve had a lot of guys come back, a lot of really good players, a lot of experienced players come back to try and make a push and make a difference in Georgia football this year. It’s been something that’s said, but the real central push has been our team standard.”

Is there anyone else who JT has formed a connection with at receiver?

“Really, the whole receiving staff. The running backs have been great and the tight ends have been exceptional as well. Fitz (John FitzPatrick) has received a lot of praise for the way he has worked and how much better his ball skill have gotten. Darnell has obviously developed a lot; that whole tight end room as done a great job. Zamir has gotten better breaking in and out of his routes. Cook, Kenny and Milton are all great route runners. All the other receivers that I’ll talk about, they’ll come in and work, whether it’s special teams, whether it’s receiver, they run their butt off all day and they’re all getting better.” 

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