University of South Florida sophomore quarterback B.J. Daniels, who continued to say recently that he still wanted to play basketball, announced Wednesday he will focus solely on football.
Daniels did not join the basketball team after USF's victory over Northern Illinois in the International Bowl on Jan. 2, raising questions about his future as a two-sport athlete.
Daniels told his teammates about the decision following Monday's team meeting at which former Bucs coach Tony Dungy spoke to the team about staying together during the adversity caused by the firing of Coach Jim Leavitt on Friday.
"This was a tough decision, but one I needed to make in order to lead our football team to a championship," Daniels said in a statement. "I'm just a sophomore, but I feel like it is my responsibility to be a leader and help set the tone for the team. I just felt like this was the right time to make my full commitment to football. We have championship goals and we can't waste any time."
As a redshirt freshman, Daniels passed for 1,983 yards, 14 touchdowns, and had a team-high 772 rushing yards and nine touchdowns. Daniels became the team's starter in the fourth game after fifth-year senior Matt Grothe's career ended with a knee injury.
"It is admirable that B.J. would make this decision," USF offensive coordinator Mike Canales said in the statement. "He's making the best decision for the team and football program. He understands that he needs to be a leader on and off the field all year long and I know he's ready to go to work this offseason, in both in the film room and during workouts."
As a freshman, Daniels played in 19 games for the basketball team, averaging 0.5 points and 0.4 rebounds in a reserve role.
A product of Tallahassee Lincoln, one of the primary reasons Daniels decided to come to USF was the promise he could continue to be a two-sport athlete during a time in which few players play multiple sports. His football career, however, took off sooner than expected.
"B.J. came and spoke with me and we had a good conversation," USF men's basketball head coach Stan Heath in a statement. "I totally support his decision, especially during this time, to show leadership and be a part of the football program, and we will keep that window open for the future and see how things go."