Sam Darnold Reportedly 'Unlikely' to Leave USC for 2018 NFL Draft

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistOctober 23, 2017

Southern California quarterback Sam Darnold passes the ball during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Utah in Los Angeles, Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017. (AP Photo/Kelvin Kuo)
Kelvin Kuo/Associated Press

Quarterback Sam Darnold is reportedly leaning toward returning to the USC Trojans after the season.

On Monday, Benjamin Allbright of 104.7 FM in Denver cited a "USC source" who said the redshirt sophomore is "unlikely to leave this year." While Darnold has struggled with turnovers this season (10 interceptions in eight games), he is widely considered one of the top prospects in the 2018 draft should he leave school.

Matt Miller of Bleacher Report ranked Darnold as the nation's No. 1 quarterback and No. 2 player—behind only Penn State running back Saquon Barkley—on his most recent big board.

If Darnold returns, quarterback-starved NFL franchises can turn toward Miller's Nos. 2-5 options in UCLA's Josh Rosen, Wyoming's Josh Allen, Oklahoma State's Mason Rudolph and Oklahoma's Baker Mayfield.

Darnold impressed as a freshman with 3,086 passing yards, 31 touchdown throws and nine interceptions as he led the Trojans to a Rose Bowl title. USC was a national title contender coming into the 2017 campaign largely because of his presence, but a blowout loss to Notre Dame and a loss to Washington State have essentially knocked it out of the running.

Darnold failed to throw a touchdown and had just 164 passing yards in the loss to the Cougars and has three games with multiple interceptions on the year.

Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com contextualized the struggles some, noting that USC's offensive line is "not very good" and that the quarterback is missing last year's top weapons in Adoree' Jackson and JuJu Smith-Schuster.

Darnold still has time to turn things around this season before the draft, but he apparently could give himself the entire 2018 campaign to prepare for the next level as well given Monday's news.

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