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Pitt Football

Renewal of the Backyard Brawl Brings Kedon Slovis and JT Daniels Back Together

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If JT Daniels hadn’t gotten hurt late in USC’s season opener against Fresno State in 2019, Kedon Slovis may never have had the chance to shine.

Daniels, an elite five-star quarterback out of Mater Dei in California, was primed for a breakout in 2019 after a solid freshman season. He was the future. Slovis, a three-star quarterback out of Scottsdale, Arizona, was the 15th highest-ranked recruit in USC’s 2019 recruiting class. But when Daniels went down, Slovis’s true freshman emergence led to Pac-12 Freshman of the Year honors.

Daniels would transfer to Georgia following the season, with Slovis firmly entrenched as USC’s starter. A trip to the Pac-12 championship game in the shortened 2020 season, along with first-team all-conference honors, pointed toward a potential high draft selection, but after a turbulent 2021 season, plagued by injuries, inconsistency and program upheaval, Slovis entered the transfer portal at the end of the season.

While Daniels would win a national championship at Georgia, as Stetson Bennett’s backup, he wasn’t ever able to grab hold of the starting job in Athens, Georgia. With just seven starts in nine appearances over two seasons, he also entered the transfer portal at the end of the season.

Slovis wasn’t in the portal long before he committed to Pitt, now in the midst of a quarterback competition with Nick Patti following a strong spring. Daniels took his time before committing to West Virginia today — setting up an intriguing reunion down the road.

With the Backyard Brawl officially on the 2022 schedule for the first time since 2011, with four more Brawls added to the schedule over the next decade, the renewal of one of the oldest rivalries in college football has even higher stakes. The tandem of Daniels and Slovis — first and second on the depth chart at USC entering the 2019 season — was, at one point, the future of USC football. Now they’re the present of Pitt and WVU football.

And a meeting on the field at Heinz Field Thursday, Sept. 1, to kick off the 2022-23 college football season under the lights, could set the tone for an entire season.

The idea of a Daniels-led WVU and Slovis-led Pitt playing the Backyard Brawl for the first time in 11 seasons, on the opening day of the 2022-23 college football season, no less, would have seemed ridiculous even a year ago. Let alone when Daniels and Slovis were playing at USC, but the new era of college football is more unpredictable than ever.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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