Shortly after Josh Rosen declared for the 2018 NFL draft, USC quarterback Sam Darnold followed in his footsteps. Darnold made the news official with an Instagram post on Wednesday evening.
Darnold joined USC as a four-star recruit. He sat out the 2015 season as a redshirt freshman and started 2016 as a backup before taking over for Max Browne after the Trojans started off 1-2. From there, Darnold had an explosive sophomore year, throwing for 3,086 yards, 31 touchdowns, and just nine interceptions. He rallied the Trojans to a 10-3 finish and a huge Rose Bowl win over Penn State.
After that breakout season, Darnold went into 2017 as a Heisman contender with tons of hype. He took a slight step back, throwing 13 interceptions in 14 games as USC couldn’t make the College Football Playoff, but the Trojans still won the Pac-12 championship. Darnold’s college career ended on a sour note, getting swallowed up by the Ohio State defense in a 24-7 Cotton Bowl loss.
Darnold will be a polarizing prospect in the upcoming draft. At 6’4 and 220 pounds, he has ideal size for an NFL quarterback and is a great improviser, making impressive throws on the scramble. But his sample size is relatively small, and he’s prone to back-breaking mistakes in crucial situations. Still, he’ll likely test well at the NFL Combine and figures to be one of the first quarterbacks off the board when all is said and done.