In 2017, Darnold completed 63 percent of his passes for 4,143 yards with 26 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. He had an up-and-down season with too many turnovers - fumbles were a particular issue beyond the interceptions. Darnold also made some beautiful anticipatory throws with excellent accuracy in just about every game. There were rumors that Darnold would return to school for 2018, but he declared via Instagram.
Darnold needs to improve his decision-making, eye movement, and confidence. He admitted that confidence was an issue for him in 2017. Earlier in the day of the Trojans' upset loss to Washington State, a scout who was doing tape study of USC quarterback Sam Darnold texted me that they thought Darnold was a good prospect and should end up being a quality starter in the NFL, but he thought Darnold was being overhyped as a "can't miss" elite-quarterback prospect. They felt that Darnold was not better on tape in 2017 than Mitch Trubisky or Deshaun Watson were in 2016.
Darnold made some early mistakes before leading a comeback win versus Utah. Previously, he bounced back with a solid performance against Oregon State after an upset loss to Washington State. Against Washington State, Darnold was 15-of-29 for 164 yards with zero touchdowns and an interception. He notched two rushing touchdowns in that contest, but also lost a game-ending fumble. Darnold threw some great passes against Stanford, displaying his accuracy, arm strength, vision, anticipation and touch. He completed 21-of-26 passes for 316 yards with four touchdowns and two interceptions. In the Pac-12 Championship Game, Darnold threw the ball well to help USC beat Stanford in the re-match. He didn't have an impressive game against Ohio State.
Darnold was very impressive as a redshirt freshman in 2016. Sources say that while they haven't studied Darnold extensively, he jumped out at them as being a potentially special quarterback. Darnold completed 67 percent of his passes in 2016 for 3,086 yards with 31 touchdowns and nine interceptions. He has size, a strong-enough arm and accuracy, plus led USC on a nine-game winning streak to end last season. There is buzz of him being a No. 1-overall talent at the position. Team sources say that the early feedback is that Darnold has good intangibles as well.
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