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Quarterback JT Daniels announces medical retirement


Rice quarterback JT Daniels stands with teammates at Rice Stadium during the Bayou Bucket against the University of Houston Sept. 9. Daniels announced his medical retirement Dec. 1. Francesca Nemati / Thresher

By Pavithr Goli and Andersen Pickard     12/1/23 5:58pm

Rice Football quarterback JT Daniels is medically retiring after suffering multiple concussions, according to a report from Pete Thamel of ESPN.

Daniels, who played his last game Nov. 4 against Southern Methodist University, told ESPN he made the decision in conjunction with his doctors. His retirement begins immediately, meaning Daniels is unable to play in the Owls’ bowl game later this month. 

Freshman quarterback AJ Padgett has started in Daniels’ place since Nov. 11 and will lead the Owls in their bowl game, assistant athletic director for media relations Chuck Pool told the Thresher.

Daniels started nine games for the Owls this season, helping them to a 6-6 regular season record and leading the squad to their second-straight bowl-game appearance. In 2023, his lone season with Rice after transferring in December 2022, Daniels completed 63.1 percent of passes for 2,443 yards, 21 passing touchdowns and seven interceptions. 

One of Daniels’ top stretches at Rice was three games from Sept. 9 to Sept. 23 during which he threw for 1,088 yards, 10 touchdowns and one interception. The Owls won twice during that span, including an overtime thriller against the University of Houston in the Bayou Bucket. Two weeks later against the University of South Florida, Daniels set a career high with 432 passing yards.

A California native, Daniels had a storied NCAA voyage. After several of his seasons were cut short by injuries and the COVID-19 pandemic, he ultimately played for four teams over six years. A former five-star recruit, Daniels retires with a stat line that includes 41 collegiate games, 66 passing touchdowns, 32 interceptions, a 62.9 percent completion rate and a 139.9 passer efficiency rating. He also won a national championship with the University of Georgia during the 2022 season.

Daniels’ connection with Rice Football head coach Mike Bloomgren extends back to the quarterback’s freshman year of high school, when he attended a camp hosted by Stanford University. At the time, Bloomgren was Stanford’s offensive coordinator. In 2017, Stanford formally offered Daniels a spot on the team, but he ultimately chose to attend the University of Southern California. 

Bloomgren tried to bring Daniels to Rice multiple times, including before his transfer to the University of West Virginia in 2022, the Thresher previously reported. “[I’ve] recruited him since he was 14 or 15, since he was a ninth grader at Mater Dei, and built a great relationship [with him],” Bloomgren said at the time, adding that he frequently texted the quarterback when the NCAA rules allowed him to do so.

According to Thamel, Daniels now intends to pursue coaching. Several people — including Bloomgren — have praised Daniels’ intelligence on the football field.

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