As a redshirt freshman at USC, Darnold made a name for himself that put him in the front seat as the number one pick in the 2018 NFL draft. In 13 games in the 2016 season, Darnold threw for 3,086 yards with, 31 touchdowns, and 9 interceptions all while managing to complete 67.3% of his passes. In USC’s bowl game against Penn State that season, Darnold went 33/53 for 453 yards, 5 touchdowns, and an interception in a game in which the Trojans won.
In Darnold’s final season as a redshirt sophomore he was put under a spotlight because of his draft eligibility and the likelihood of him being the most sought-after quarterback in the class. His production as a whole took a hit in 2017. While his passing yards increased to 4,143, his touchdowns declined to 26 and his interceptions increased to 13. Darnold also attempted 114 more passes in 2017 which is a factor in the increase in interceptions and yards but is a hindrance on his decline in touchdowns. The Trojans lost their bowl game in 2017 where Darnold struggled against Ohio State. He went 26/45 with 356 yards, no touchdowns, and an interception.
Many people see Darnold as somewhat of a project and will benefit from sitting for a year. He is also seen as the quarterback with the highest ceiling in the draft. If Darnold is put in the right situation, he has the opportunity to be a franchise quarterback for the next 10-15 years.