Believe it or not, despite the headlines that insisted USC quarterback Sam Darnold was having a rough year, that he needs to stay one more season in college before skipping for the NFL Draft, that his turnover issues are killing USC’s offense, that he’s a disappointment, Darnold has actually had a rather good year.
Good enough to be announced on Thursday as one of 11 Manning Award finalists.
“We’ve had a great year of college football once again,” Archie Manning said in a statement. “Quarterbacks all around the country had great performances week-in and week-out and I want to thank our voting panel for the time and effort they put into selecting the best in the country for this honor. Now we all have the opportunity to watch these outstanding players in the biggest games of the year – the conference championships, the bowl games and the playoff games. I’m looking forward to another exciting finish to the season.”
Darnold has passed for a career high 3,462 yards this season, completing 63.3 percent of his passes while adding 24 touchdowns. Only 11 quarterbacks in the country have thrown for more yards. His 176 points responsible for ranks 21st in the nation, and his 24 touchdowns are also top 25 in the country.
Perhaps most impressive, Darnold is 19-3 as a starter, leading USC to one of the most epic Rose Bowl victories in recent memory. On Friday night, he will have the opportunity to help the Trojans claim their first Pac-12 title since 2008.
Darnold was also a nominee last year, despite not starting the first three games of the season. The list of finalists includes:
J.T. Barrett, Sr., Ohio State
Kelly Bryant, Jr., Clemson
Sam Darnold, So., USC
Jalen Hurts, So., Alabama
Lamar Jackson, Jr., Louisville
Baker Mayfield, Sr., Oklahoma
Trace McSorley, Jr., Penn State
McKenzie Milton, So., UCF
Mason Rudolph, Sr., Oklahoma State
Jarrett Stidham, So., Auburn
Kahlil Tate, So., Arizona
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