LOS ANGELES (AP) — Although J.T. Daniels doesn't know exactly how he'll react when he exits the Coliseum tunnel on Saturday for his debut as Southern California's starting quarterback, the 18-year-old freshman isn't terribly concerned.

"Just going to breathe and stay calm," Daniels said Tuesday night. "Get used to it. Get in the flow a little bit. I don't think it will be that big of a deal."

Daniels' coaches and teammates already feel the Trojans are in good hands.

In their season opener against UNLV, Daniels will become the 15th-ranked Trojans' first true freshman starting quarterback since 2009. The sight of 80,000 fans in the stands at the venerable arena has intimidated plenty of teenagers over the years, but Daniels has been preparing for this moment since well before he graduated from high school a full year early last spring to enter the competition for the Trojans' starting job.

"I mean, college atmosphere is obviously a lot bigger than high school," Daniels said in his first interviews since enrolling at USC. "But playing at a competitive high school and just playing football all my life, at the end of the day, football is still football. It's still the same sport. Still doing the same things, just at a different level and in a different stadium."

Daniels had just wrapped up his first practice since winning a three-way derby to become the successor to Sam Darnold. He reflected briefly on his journey over the past six months, from leaving Mater Dei High School early to grabbing one of the nation's highest-profile quarterback jobs with exceptional maturity and strong play throughout fall camp.

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Sign Up for Our Newsletter

Enter your email to receive our latest sports news, contests and more directly to your inbox!
  • Name*