University of Southern California quarterback Sam Darnold is being called an early Heisman Trophy winner, and is expected to do great things next season at USC and into the National Football League.
Those people may wanna put the brakes on that a bit. There’s many things that say don’t overhype Sam Darnold.
Don’t Overhype Sam Darnold
In 2016, Darnold completed 246 of 366 passes for 3,086 yards and 31 touchdowns. Those are some impressive numbers, but it’s only been one season. There is still at least two more seasons to see what kind of quarterback Darnold really is.
This point here goes beyond Darnold’s USC career. He could lead the Trojans back to the Rose Bowl and maybe see himself starting in the College Football Playoff as early as next season. However, what is in store for him if and when he’s drafted by the NFL?
Peril in the Pros
Many USC quarterbacks have gone pro since the turn of the century. As it stands right now, none of them have had legendary careers. After winning the Heisman in 2005, Matt Leinart never had a year where he threw for more than 2,547 yards in the NFL. He threw for a career high 11 touchdowns…in his rookie season.
Carson Palmer‘s career started off well, but after a torn ACL, he was never the same. After mediocrity with the Oakland Raiders, he had a good year with the Arizona Cardinals. He followed that up with another bad season.
Mark Sanchez took the New York Jets to two consecutive AFC championship games in 2009 and 2010. After that, however, his performance has not only failed to be worthy of a starting job, but he’s had issues even staying on one team.
Not to say Darnold will see the same fate. The history is not on his side, however. He could be possibly be the one to break the Trojan curse, per se.
Look at the Schedule
USC has a tough schedule through their first three games. They kick off the season Sept. 2 against the 2016 MAC champion Western Michigan.
They follow that game against Tom Herman and Texas, then Stanford. Another big game for the Trojans will be against Josh Rosen and the UCLA Bruins at the end of the season. Darnold will have to outduel another star quarterback in Rosen in that game.
Not only will Darnold have a lot of pressure on him after last season, but he won’t have the same great players around him to help out. Wide receiver Juju Smith-Schuester led the team with 1,454 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2016. The next best receiver had 1,100 fewer receiving yards than him. Now, Smith-Schuester is with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Unless Darnold can find a way to duplicate what he did with Smith-Schuester with the remaining guys, it will be a long season for him.