The most coveted player to enter the college football transfer portal this offseason has received a waiver that will grant him immediate eligibility.
That statement could be recycled annually. This year that title belongs to JT Daniels. Ranked only behind Trevor Lawrence in the class of 2018 quarterback recruiting rankings, Daniels transferred to Georgia from USC after suffering a season-ending injury in the first game of the 2019 season. In his absence, Kedon Slovis became a star, prompting Daniels to seek out greener pastures.
Daniels’ decision on May 28 to become a Georgia Bulldog came as a surprise. Kirby Smart is not necessarily known for developing pros from the position and Georgia had already accepted a grad transfer for the upcoming season, Wake Forest’s Jamie Newman. Without obvious evidence (aside from playing time) to support a transfer waiver for Daniels, he was poised to pick up where Newman left off in 2021. Six weeks later, there’s a quarterback competition in Athens.
Thank you to the NCAA for granting me immediate eligibility and allowing me to play football this fall. I will not comment on the waiver or transfer, but look forward to a great 2020 season with my teammates.
— JT Daniels (@jtdaniels06) July 13, 2020
If Daniels has been welcomed into the SEC with open arms, what does that mean for UK quarterback Joey Gatewood?
Precedent does not necessarily exist in the NCAA’s decision-making process. The severity of punishments for programs who have violated rules and what it takes to approve or decline a transfer waiver are arbitrary. There is a loose set of criteria that does appear to help the player requesting a waiver become immediately eligible — proximity from home to the new school and assistance from the former school. Neither apply to Gatewood, a Florida native, who is unlikely to receive an extra helping hand from Gus Malzahn’s administration with the Tigers on UK’s (current) 2020 schedule. Gatewood’s Jacksonville quarterback coach, Denny Thompson, made the case to the Courier-Journal on the player’s behalf.
“If one of the guidelines (for a waiver) is that you believe that you weren’t told completely accurate information so trust was an issue, I think that played out publicly,” Thompson said. “We all heard Auburn say he’s going to get snaps, he’s going to do this, and he wasn’t. If that is in any way shape or form a guideline, then I feel good about him getting it. … I like the odds actually.”
You should like Gatewood’s waiver odds for one simple reason: he’s a quarterback. JT Daniels moved thousands of miles away from his home state to play quarterback and for that reason alone. The only precedence set by the NCAA is preferential treatment for signal-callers. Joey Gatewood should not be the exception.