Only one week left until the season opener. Are you getting excited? Nervous? Scared? Today's player may well inspire all of those emotions in you this year.
#7 QB B.J. Daniels
Redshirt Junior, 6'0", 223 lbs.
Stats In 2010: Daniels played in all but one of last year's games, and took a step back in a new offense. For the season, he completed 143 of 245 passes (a 58.4% completion rate) for 1685 yards. He threw 11 touchdown passes, but also 13 interceptions. His games against Florida, Syracuse, and West Virginia were some of the worst in school history by a quarterback. Against those three teams, he threw for one touchdown and nine interceptions while completing only 34 of 73 passes. (Not surprisingly, the Bulls lost all three.) Late in the season, the offense was largely taken out of his hands, but he rebounded in the Meineke Car Care Bowl against Clemson with his best game of the year -- 20-for-27 for 189 yards, two passing touchdowns, one rushing TD, one early interception, and one MVP award.
Because of a lack of depth and a lingering minor injury, Daniels was discouraged from running as much as he did in 2009, when he led the team in rushing. Last season Daniels ran 112 times for only 259 yards (numbers that include sacks as rushing attempts and negative yards). He did tie for the team lead with five rushing touchdowns.
Current Position On Depth Chart: Daniels is USF's starting quarterback, a position he has firmed up during fall camp. Barring some freak injury, he will be under center in South Bend next Saturday. Did we mention next Saturday?
How He Came To USF: Daniels starred in two sports at Tallahassee's Lincoln High School. (Fans may remember that Daniels was also on the USF basketball team in 2008-09, but left college hoops behind after becoming the starting quarterback.) In football, Daniels threw for 2500 yards and a school-record 34 touchdowns in his senior season, while adding almost 1,000 rushing yards and 12 TDs on the ground. He was a first-team Class 5A all-state player in both football and basketball, where he averaged 27 points per game to break Lincoln's per-game season scoring average record. Daniels chose USF on signing day in 2008 over offers from Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky, Minnesota, and both Michigan and West Virginia, which tells you Rich Rodriguez was probably after him, too.
Recruiting Rankings: Rivals gave Daniels four stars, naming him their #8 dual-threat QB and the #44 overall prospect in Florida in the class of 2008. Daniels received three stars from Scout, who ranked him 44th among all quarterbacks.
Projected Playing Time In 2011: Long story short, Daniels is the linchpin of USF's season. If he builds on his game against Clemson and continues to develop as a true quarterback, the Bulls have a chance to win the Big East. If he plays the way he did during most of last season and Skip Holtz and Todd Fitch have to pare down the offense to protect him, expect another 7-8 win season. If he regresses further, he might not finish the season as the starter.
I don't want to write out 2000 words right now when the idea of this series is to give as much attention to the guys on the scout team as we do to the starting quarterback. So I'll wait until Monday or Tuesday to add in some more thoughts about B.J. Daniels. But all that potential B.J. has had for three seasons needs to come out this year or it probably won't come out at all.