Sam Darnold declares for the 2018 NFL Draft, leaving USC Football early

Ron Jenkins/Getty Images
Ron Jenkins/Getty Images /

Quarterback Sam Darnold announced his decision to leave USC Football early for the 2018 NFL Draft on Wednesday, releasing a video on Instagram.

The Sam Darnold era at USC Football is officially over.

The Trojan quarterback announced Wednesday that he will declare for the 2018 NFL Draft, opting to leave USC ahead of his redshirt junior season.

“After talking to my immediate family, very close friends and many people who have helped me throughout my life, I have made the decision to declare for the 2018 NFL Draft,” Darnold said in a video posted on Instagram.

“I’ve been blessed that my life has been full of memorable moments and wonderful people. The people who have been involved in making me the man I am today have prepared me for the life and decisions that I have to make in the future.”

I’ve made my decision…

A post shared by Sam Darnold (@samdarnold) on Jan 3, 2018 at 4:16pm PST

In the video, Darnold thanked the staff at San Clemente High Schools, as well as USC president Max Nikias, former athletic director Pat Haden, current athletic director Lynn Swann, offensive coordinator Tee Martin, quarterbacks coach Tyson Helton and graduate assistant Bryan Ellis for their roles in his development.

He also singled out head coach Clay Helton

“I cannot thank you enough for believing in a kid from Sam Clemente High School with such little game tape and for giving me the opportunity and chance to start at such an incredible university,” Darnold said.

Finally, the quarterback thanks USC fans for their support.

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Darnold started for the better part of two seasons, leading USC to an epic Rose Bowl victory over Penn State during his first year as a starter then delivering a Pac-12 title to the Trojans in 2017. He went undefeated at the Coliseum in 12 starts.

Though his 2017 season did not deliver on the Heisman hopes of the offseason, he became the first USC quarterback to throw for 4,000 yards in a season, finishing with 4,143 yards to go along with 26 touchdowns.

It remains to be seen how highly Darnold could rise in the NFL draft pecking order, but he has been projected as a potential No. 1 overall pick and a sure-fire first round selection.

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He will have to contend with UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen, who also announced his intentions to declare for the draft on Wednesday afternoon.