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Hughson QB goes from Cal to Arizona
Robert McDaniel
Hughson High quarterback Robert McDaniel guided the Huskies to back-to-back Sac-Joaquin Section 6 championships, including the NorCal and state titles during his sophomore year (Journal file photo).

Hughson High quarterback Robert McDaniel, who committed in March to play football for the University of California, has backed out of his agreement and will instead play for the University of Arizona.

McDaniel, a senior-to-be, has guided the Huskies to back-to-back Sac-Joaquin Section 6 championships, including the NorCal and state titles during his sophomore year. The 6-foot-1, 195-pounder saw his stock soar last season among colleges, and he received scholarship offers from more than a dozen Division I programs.

Both the Golden Bears and Wildcats played last year in the Pac-12 Conference. But with other conferences offering huge payouts to lure away Pac-12 teams, the league ultimately folded. Arizona is now a member of the Big 12 Conference, while Cal will play in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Cal was an attractive choice for McDaniel, not only because home games would be close to home, allowing for family to easily make the trip, but the ACC features powerhouses, Clemson, Florida State, Louisville, and is associated with Notre Dame — teams that garner national attention.

But Arizona is currently a stronger program than Cal, and the Big 12 also features national TV favorites such as Texas and Oklahoma.

McDaniel, who hoped to study either sports medicine or sports management at Berkeley, said the relationships he developed with Cal coach Justin Wilcox’s staff during the recruitment process was the main reason he chose Cal over the 16 other schools that made offers.

“There was just a lot of great communication and relationships that have been built over time,” said McDaniel in March. “And I’ve been able to sustain those relationships with the coaches. And during my first visit last year I was able to see what the locker room was like. Not what it looked like, but the actual atmosphere among the players.”

McDaniel was unavailable for comment.

A starter since his freshman year, McDaniel has completed 60 percent of his passes during his career, for 4,971 yards, with 62 touchdown tosses against just 12 interceptions.

In addition to his impressive statistics and arm strength, McDaniel has gained a reputation as a calm leader. In both the 2022 and 2023 postseasons, McDaniel led the Huskies back from 18-point deficits.

Hughson trailed Ripon Christian 28-10 entering the fourth quarter of the 2022 Northern California regional championship, then scored 21 unanswered points to close the game and win 31-28.

A year later, the Huskies were down 31-13 to Bradshaw Christian (Sacramento) in the third quarter of the 2023 section final before rallying for a 40-39 triumph.