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Name: *Sam Darnold 
College: Southern California     Number: 14
Height: 6-3   Weight: 220
Position: QB  Pos2:   Class/Draft Year: rSo/2018
40 Low: 4.64
  40 Time: 4.74
   40 High: 4.85

Projected Round: 1      Stock: 
Rated number 1 out of 115 QB's     1 / 2381 TOTAL
Combine Invite: Yes
Height: 6032
Weight: 220

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Height: 6032
Weight: 220

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 Data Scout Notes: 2018: 01-03-18 - Announced Early Entry into 2018 NFL Draft…2017: 1stC...PMaxwell...**2016: OROYC/HMC/ManningFinalist...2015: RS
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 Header

  Sam Darnold
Quarterback
Southern California Trojans
6-3 220 4.74 #14
Capistrano Beach, California
San Clemente High School


 Update

  12/29/17:— If the Cotton Bowl was the final collegiate game for USC quarterback Sam Darnold, his uneven performance won’t make his pro projection any easier for NFL evaluators.
At times, the redshirt sophomore was outstanding against Ohio State on Friday night, seeing the field well and delivering with touch and timing. But just like most of this season, too many drives ended in turnovers, including a pick-six and two fumbles — all examples of being too careless with the football.

Darnold finished 26-for-45 for 356 yards and zero touchdowns. He had three turnovers with one interception and two fumbles.
Full context: The USC offense, not just Darnold, was apathetic for much of the night. The protections were spotty, the receivers struggled to separate and the coaching didn’t help Darnold make the appropriate adjustments.

If he elects to leave school early, Darnold will be in the conversation to be the first quarterback drafted because of his arm, intelligence and intangibles. Returning to USC and furthering his development in college next season might be what is best for him long-term, but an almost certain top pick will be tough to pass up for Darnold, making his NFL decision a compelling one.
With the quarterback-needy Cleveland Browns set to pick No. 1 in the 2018 NFL Draft, the quarterback conversation will hold the NFL hostage the next four months, which will be especially true if Darnold declares. -- Dane Brugler, NFLDraftScout.com

= = =
12/11/17 - 2017 ALL-PAC-12 FOOTBALL FIRST TEAM (COACHES): Darnold completed 63.7% of his passes over the regular season for a career-high 3,787 yards and 26 touchdowns compared to 12 interceptions, only three of which came after September. An honorable mention all-conference choice in 2016, Darnold is the first Trojan quarterback on the first team since Mark Sanchez in 2008.


 Overview

  A lot of the things that scouts look for in a player are measurable - size, strength, speed, statistics and wins being among them. Scouts also talk about players who possess that undefinable "it" factor. Darnold, still just a redshirt sophomore, offers a prototypical blend of each.

It is easy to get caught up in hyperbole with a player with a player like Darnold, who has enjoyed such incredible success over his first two seasons as a starter at Troy, especially given the hype that comes as a Heisman Trophy candidate in the nation's second-leading media market.

From a statistician's point of view it certainly looked like Darnold had been over-hyped when he tossed multiple interceptions in each of USC's first three games of the 2017 season or when the Trojans were shocked on the road at Washington State. Those looking deeper, however, acknowledged the turnover around him, including the loss of his most reliable pass-catcher, JuJu Smith-Schuster, and three all-conference offensive linemen to the NFL. Darnold was only sacked six times in his breakout 2016 campaign. That number moved to only 21 over the 2017 regular season. As such, scouts watching the tape (rather than those in the media simply watching box scores) were not surprised when Darnold's play "suddenly" returned to form as he and his teammates gained more experience.

In large part due to Darnold's play, USC ultimately finished the regular season with an 11-2 record and a berth in the Cotton Bowl against Ohio State.

The loss in the Palouse was the only blemish on USC's conference schedule, in fact, with Darnold accounting for 25 touchdowns (21 passing) against seven interceptions against Pac-12 foes in 2017. Among his more notable performances were wins over cross-town and potential NFL draft rival, Josh Rosen and UCLA in a highly anticipated regular season finale and against Stanford in the Pac-12 championship game.
A week after beating Stanford for the second time in 2017, Darnold - not Rosen or the Pac-12's all-time passing leader Luke Falk from Washington State - was named the Pac-12's top quarterback by the conference coaches.

Darnold's success in 2017 was hardly a surprise given his spectacular debut as a redshirt freshman a year before.

Despite not being inserted into the starting lineup until the fourth game of the season, Darnold quickly emerged as one of the best players in the country.

He sparked the Trojans to wins in their final nine games (after starting the season 1-3), including a gritty win in Seattle over eventual Pac-12 champion and playoff-bound Washington and capping it off with a dazzling comeback over Penn State in the Rose Bowl in which he completed his final 10 passes and set career-highs in completions (33), passing yards (453) and passing touchdowns (five) in a performance that ranks among the legends in USC's storied history.

Overall in 2016, while appearing in all 13 games and starting the last 10, Darnold completed 246-of-366 passes (67.2%) for 3,086 yards with 31 TDs and 9 interceptions, plus 62 carries for 250 yards (4.0 avg.) with 2 TDs. He redshirted in 2015, serving as the Trojans' No. 3 quarterback and earning USC's Offensive Service Team Player of the Year.

When breaking down Darnold's game for the NFL, the first thing that jumps out is his prototypical size and strength for the position, a stark contrast to many of the top-rated quarterbacks in recent years.

He possesses plenty of arm strength to make every NFL throw and shows accuracy to all levels of the field, including on the move. For such a young player, Darnold plays with exceptional poise and instincts for the position. He has a knack for buying time by stepping up or sliding out of the pocket while keeping his eyes downfield, putting a lot of pressure on defensive backs to maintain their coverage.

Darnold does have some areas in which his game can improve, most notably an elongated throwing motion. Further, his turnovers jumped in 2017 with 12 interceptions over the regular season and several fumbles. Tape review, however, suggests that Darnold's mistakes are not unfixable flaws but more of an indication of his simply trying to do too much.

With only 24 career starts (including the Cotton Bowl), there is no denying that Darnold could use a little more polish to his game. Given the need for quarterbacks in the NFL, however, if he were to make the early jump, Darnold appears to be a cinch for a top five pick with the No. 1 overall selection a distinct possibility.

BACKGROUND
Like most USC recruits, Darnold was a multi-sport prep star. Among his more notable high school achievements was the fact that he made the 2014 Prep Star All-American Dream Team and Max Preps All-State Division II first team. He completed 213-of-314 passes (67.8%) for 2,996 yards with 39 TDs and 8 interceptions and ran for 785 yards on 125 carries (6.3 avg.) with 13 TDs as a senior guiding San Clemente to the CIF Southwest Division championship game.

He completed 29-of-46 passes (63.0%) for 337 yards with 4 TDs and ran for 322 yards on 35 carries (9.2 avg.) with 5 TDs as a 2013 junior before he broke his foot in the third game of the season and was sidelined for the final 8 games. Besides quarterback, Darnold also lined up at linebacker and wide receiver.

He also played basketball at San Clemente, earning All-League MVP honors as a 2013 sophomore and 2015 senior (he averaged 15 points and 9 rebounds as a senior when he also was All-CIF Division IAA second team and Orange County Register All-Orange County fourth team). He missed most of his 2014 junior season recovering from his broken foot suffered in the football season and then he broke a finger. He also played baseball at San Clemente.


 Analysis

  STRENGTHS
Possesses a rock-solid build for quarterback with the required body armor to take punishment, including broad shoulders and a thick, evenly distributed musculature. An instinctive, "natural" player who saw action at linebacker and receiver, as well as quarterback in high school. Good pre-snap diagnosis skills, especially for a young player, typically delivering the football quickly to his primary read.
Possesses a bit of a windup but shows the ability to shorten and speed up his release when necessary (Oregon, 2016) to deliver strikes through closing windows. Above average arm strength with plenty of velocity to make every NFL throw, zipping deep outs to the sideline from the far hash and lofting deep balls 60+ yards. Very good accuracy to all levels of the field, consistently hitting receivers in stride and allowing them room to generate yards after the catch, especially on slants, drags and deep posts - staples of every NFL offense. Very good touch and trajectory to fit passes under the safety but over the linebackers down the seam and in the flats.
Throws a very catchable ball and flashes the anticipation of a veteran passer, showing the willingness to deliver passes before his receivers break. Good spatial awareness of defenders around him in the pocket and shows no hesitation in stepping up or sliding laterally while keeping his eyes downfield. Aggressive to scramble when openings are there and doesn't shy from contact, often delivering a blow to defenders. Very good accuracy on the move with USC incorporating more rollouts and bootlegs into their offense to take advantage of his mobility and excellent improvisational ability.
Shows rare poise for a young player with several comebacks already on his resume and experience with the pressure of a major media market. Voted a team captain as a redshirt sophomore.

WEAKNESSES
Only has 24 career starts under his belt and remains a work in progress in many ways. Developed some bad habits behind a leaky offensive line in 2017, occasionally bolting the pocket after his initial read was taken away rather than working his progressions. Must do a better job of protecting the football, holding it with just one hand while scrambling, and getting it punched out on multiple occasions (Washington State, Notre Dame - 2017). Winds up to throw, extending the ball far behind his head in a baseball-like motion which simultaneously provides pass rushers a target to slap the ball away and defensive backs an extra split-second to undercut would-be receivers.

COMPARES TO: Hall of Famer Joe Montana, 49ers/Chiefs: With his rock-solid build, Darnold certainly possesses a more prototypical frame than Montana, who checked in at 6-2, 200 pounds. Montana's greatest physical attribute was his accuracy, including on the move. Of course, he is best known as "Joe Cool" for his composure in critical moments, including a sterling 4-0 record in the Super Bowl. At least to this point, Darnold's similar poise and instinctive play when the lights are shining brightest warrant the lofty comparison.

IN OUR VIEW: There is no denying that Darnold struggled early in the 2017 season, throwing two interceptions in each of USC's first three games as the Trojans dealt with massive turnover on offense. Darnold threw for a very respectable 17 touchdowns to just three interceptions since September, however, and was the obvious difference in USC's 31-28 win over Stanford and its Heisman Trophy finalist Bryce Love in the Pac-12 championship game.

To be clear, Darnold has his warts -- an elongated throwing motion is the biggest concern -- but he is accurate (including on the move), athletic and tough. He also comes with a pro-caliber build, offense and media market, making the projection to the next level simpler than most of his competition. Simply put, he possesses the best mix of talent and intangibles of any draft-eligible quarterback in the country.


 2017 Season

  It appeared as if Darnold was over-hyped when he tossed multiple interceptions in each of USC's first three games of the 2017 season or when the Trojans were shocked on the road at Washington State. Those looking deeper, however, acknowledged the turnover around him, including the loss of his most reliable pass-catcher, JuJu Smith-Schuster, and three all-conference offensive linemen to the NFL. Darnold was only sacked six times in his breakout 2016 campaign. That number moved to only 21 over the 2017 regular season. As such, scouts watching the tape (rather than those in the media simply watching box scores) were not surprised when Darnold's play "suddenly" returned to form as he and his teammates gained more experience.

Thanks to Darnold's play, USC ultimately finished the regular season with an 11-2 record and a berth in the Cotton Bowl against Ohio State.

The loss in the Palouse was the only blemish on USC's conference schedule, in fact, with Darnold accounting for 25 touchdowns (21 passing) against seven interceptions against Pac-12 foes in 2017. Among his more notable performances were wins over cross-town and potential NFL draft rival, Josh Rosen and UCLA in a highly anticipated regular season finale and against Stanford in the Pac-12 championship game.
A week after beating Stanford for the second time in 2017, Darnold - not Rosen or the Pac-12's all-time passing leader Luke Falk from Washington State - was named the Pac-12's top quarterback by the conference coaches.


 2016 Season

  Darnold proved to be among the top quarterbacks in the nation as just a redshirt freshman in 2016. His insertion into the starting lineup in the fourth game of 2016 gave the USC offense a spark as the Trojans won the final 9 games of the season. Overall in 2016 while appearing in all 13 games and starting the last 10, he completed 246-of-366 passes (67.2%) for 3,086 yards with 31 TDs and 9 interceptions, plus 62 carries for 250 yards (4.0 avg) with 2 TDs and 3 tackles.

He won the 2016 Archie Griffin Award from the Touchdown Club of Columbus (given to the nation’s season-long most valuable player after the bowls) and was among 10 finalists for the 2016 Manning Award and 18 semifinalists for the O’Brien Award, both awarded to the nation’s top quarterback. He was the 2016 Pac-12 Freshman Offensive Player of the Year, made Football Writers Freshman All-American first team and Campus Insiders Freshman All-American second team and was All-Pac-12 honorable mention. He made the 2016 AP All-Bowl Team first team and ESPN Pac-12 All-Bowl Team first team. He won USC’s 2016 Most Inspirational Player Award and Bob Chandler Award (underclassman with outstanding athletic ability, academic achievement and character).

He is the only USC quarterback in history to have back-to-back 5 passing TD games (Arizona and California in 2016). He threw multiple TD passes in 9 straight games, the most by a Trojan since Matt Leinart’s 15 in 2003-04. He was ninth nationally in passing efficiency (161.1, second in Pac-12), 10th in completion percentage (.672, second in Pac-12) and 13th in passing TDs (31, fourth in Pac-12). He was second in the nation in ESPN’s Total Quarterback Rating (86.8), behind only Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield. In his 10 starts, he threw 29 touchdowns and just 8 interceptions. Among freshmen quarterbacks, he was first nationally in passing efficiency (161.1), completion percentage (.672), TD passes (31) and yards per attempt (8.4). His 31 TDs in 2016 is a USC freshman season record. His 250 rushing yards in 2016 are the most in a season by a USC quarterback since Reggie Perry’s 254 in 1991. He already is 15th on USC’s career passing list with 246 completions (he also is tied for 10th on Troy’s season passing chart with those 246 completions). His 3,336 yards of total offense in 2016 is eighth on USC’s season list and 20th on USC’s career list.

Playing off the bench against Alabama, he was 4-of-8 for 29 yards and he ran for 9 yards on 3 carries. Against Utah State, he was 5-of-7 for 62 yards with 2 TDs off the bench. At Stanford, he saw late action and was 5-of-7 for 45 yards and an interception. At Utah, he made his first start (just the sixth redshirt freshman to start at quarterback for USC) and hit 18-of-26 passes for 253 yards and he also ran for 41 yards on 9 carries (with an 8-yard TD), the most rushing yards in a game by a USC quarterback since Matt Leinart’s 46 in 2004 against Colorado State. He completed 69.7% of his passes (23-of-33) for 352 yards and 3 TDs (all career highs) while starting against Arizona State (he also ran for 8 yards on 3 tries, with a 3-yard TD run) to earn Manning Award Star of the Week honors. Against Colorado, he threw for a career-best 358 yards with 3 TDs on 25-of-37 passing to become the first USC freshman to have back-to-back 300-yard passing games since Todd Marinovich in 1989 did so versus Notre Dame and Stanford (he earned O’Brien Award Great 8 honors), but he also had an interception and lost 2 fumbles (he ran for 22 yards on 8 carries). He threw a USC freshman record 5 TDs at Arizona on 20-of-32 passing and he added 54 yards on 6 carries (the most rushing yards in a game by a USC quarterback since Carson Palmer’s 60 against Kansas State in 2001) while playing just the first 3 quarters to earn Rose Bowl Game Pac-12 Player of the Week, O’Brien Award Great 8 and Scout.com Pac-12 Player of the Week honors. For a USC record second consecutive game, he threw 5 touchdowns (also tying his USC freshman game record) as he completed 72.0% of his passes (18-0f-25) for 231 yards against California, but he threw an interception and lost 2 fumbles (and he had 5 rushes for 12 yards).

Against Oregon, he hit 70.0% of his passes (28-of-40, both career highs) for 309 yards with 2 TDs but he threw an interception (he also ran for 23 yards on 5 carries). At Washington, he completed 69.7% of his passes (23-of-33) for 287 yards with 2 TDs and 2 interceptions, and also ran for 15 yards on 4 carries to earn Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week, Rose Bowl Game Pac-12 Player of the Week and O’Brien Award Great 8 honors. He completed 25-of-36 passes for 267 yards and 2 TDs (with 2 interceptions) and ran for 27 yards on 9 carries at UCLA. He was 19-of-29 passing for 205 yards and 2 TDs (52 and 2 yards) with no picks against Notre Dame and he also ran for 16 yards on 3 tries. He turned in a legendary performance when he was named the Rose Bowl Offensive Player of the Game against Penn State as he set Rose Bowl records with 5 passing TDs and 473 total yards of offense; he was 33-of-53 passing for 453 yards overall in the game (all were career highs and second most ever in a Rose Bowl), including 10-of-10 for 135 yards in the fourth quarter as he engineered 2 long touchdowns drives in the final 9 minutes to tie the score.


 2015 Season

  Redshirted in 2015 as the No. 3 quarterback as a first-year freshman. He was USC’s Offensive Service Team Player of the Year.

 High School

  He made the 2014 Prep Star All-American Dream Team, Max Preps All-State Division II first team, Cal-Hi Sports All-State second team, Orange County Register Fab 15 second team, Tacoma News Tribune Western 100, All-CIF Southwest Division Offensive MVP and Orange County Register All-Orange County Offensive Player of the Year as a senior quarterback at San Clemente (Calif.) High as he completed 213-of-314 passes (67.8%) for 2,996 yards with 39 TDs and 8 interceptions and he ran for 785 yards on 125 carries (6.3 avg) with 13 TDs. He set school season records for passing yards, passing TDs, completions and total yards (3,770) in 2014. He twice threw a school-record 5 TDs in a game in 2014. San Clemente advanced to the 2014 CIF Southwest Division championship game (he threw for 204 yards and ran for 181 yards in the game).

He completed 29-of-46 passes (63.0%) for 337 yards with 4 TDs and ran for 322 yards on 35 carries (9.2 avg) with 5 TDs as a 2013 junior before he broke his foot in the third game of the season and was sidelined for the final 8 games.

As a 2012 sophomore, he hit 40-of-60 passes (66.7%) for 411 yards and 3 TDs and ran for 143 yards on 37 carries (3.9 avg) with a TD, plus he caught 9 passes for 153 yards (17.0 avg) with 1 TD and he made 27 tackles (with 2 sacks), an interception and 3 deflections. He went 15-3 as a starter in his 3-year career.

He also played basketball at San Clemente, earning All-League MVP honors as a 2013 sophomore and 2015 senior (he averaged 15 points and 9 rebounds as a senior when he also was All-CIF Division IAA second team and Orange County Register All-Orange County fourth team). He missed most of his 2014 junior season recovering from his broken foot suffered in the football season and then he broke a finger. He also played baseball at San Clemente. He was the Orange County Register Boys Athlete of the Year and the Orange County Athletic Directors Association Orange County Male Athlete of the Year for 2014-15. Current Trojans Jake Russell and Jack Sears also prepped at San Clemente.


 Personal

  He is a communication major at USC with a B average (3.14 GPA). His father, Mike, played football (guard) at Redlands and his mother, Chris, played volleyball at Long Beach City College. His sister, Franki, played volleyball at Rhode Island (2012-15). His late grandfather, Dick Hammer, played basketball at USC (lettering in 1952 and on the Trojans’ 1954 NCAA Final Four team) and was a member of the USA’s 1964 Olympic volleyball team, then appeared in films, television (including in “Emergency!”) and commercials (including as the Marlboro Man) and also was a captain in the L.A. County Fire Department. His grandmother, Betty Hammer, played volleyball (including training with the U.S. National Team) and softball. His great grandmother, Juanita, was a noted tennis player in Southern California. His uncle, Dan Hammer, played volleyball at Long Beach State (1980-81). His cousin, Allie Hammer, played volleyball at Irvine Valley College (2009-10) and American (2010-11), his cousin, Michele Hammer, played volleyball at Chapman (2012-15) and his cousin, A.J. Hammer, is a senior on Concordia’s volleyball team.

 
 Draft Scout Player News
01/03/18 - QB Sam Darnold will skip his final two college seasons to enter the 2018 draft. Darnold thanked USC coach Clay Helton for "trusting in a kid from San Clemente High School with such little game tape and for giving me the opportunity and chance to start." Darnold passed for 4,143 yards this season, but he was plagued by 13 interceptions and eight lost fumbles during an 11-3 season that ended with USC losing to Ohio State in the Cotton Bowl. Darnold had a 20-4 record as USC's starter. NFLDraftScout.com wrote: "To be clear, Darnold has his warts -- an elongated throwing motion is the biggest concern -- but he is accurate (including on the move), athletic and tough."
12/30/17 - If Sam Darnold returns to the home of the Dallas Cowboys in four months, he figures to leave feeling a bit better than after a rough night in the Cotton Bowl. Darnold threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown , lost two fumbles on sacks and misfired on several other throws in No. 8 Southern California's 24-7 loss to fifth-ranked Ohio State on Friday night. A third-year sophomore, Darnold is projected as a possible top overall pick in the NFL draft, which will be held at AT&T Stadium in late April. If he's the first one on stage with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, that'll be a better look than a quiet walk off the field as Ohio State players celebrated. In the locker room, Darnold hugged cornerback-receiver Keyshawn "Pie" Young after signing Young's No. 15 jersey, which had other signatures as well. The 20-year-old Darnold remained noncommittal on his future. "Talking to my family, talking to coaches, people who have been in my position before," Darnold said. "That's kind of how I'll go about it."

If Darnold declares for the draft, he figures to be gone by the time the Denver Broncos are on the clock. Still, general manager John Elway and former coach Gary Kubiak, one of their scouts, were in the press box. The NFL evaluators will have to overlook Darnold's showing against the Buckeyes. While he threw for 356 yards - his eighth 300-yard game of the season - Darnold was just 26-of-45 passing. With the two lost fumbles, he's tied for the FBS lead with 22 turnovers. "I think I'm really just focused on just hanging out with my teammates for the next couple of days and really just saying bye to the seniors because they've put together such a great season," Darnold said. "It's tough. I'll look at everything and make my decision after that." Darnold threw into double coverage on a short route, and Damon Webb jumped the throw and returned the interception untouched 28 yards for a 17-0 Ohio State lead early in the second quarter. - AP College Football

12/28/17 - Sam Darnold knows the speed of an NFL game is much faster than it appeared from the upper-level seats that he and his Southern California teammates had for a Dallas Cowboys game after arriving in North Texas for the Cotton Bowl. What is still unclear is how quickly the All-Pac-12 Trojans quarterback could be playing at field level in the pros. Darnold, a third-year sophomore, hasn't said yet if he will return to Pac-12 champion USC for another season or if the Cotton Bowl against fifth-ranked Ohio State will be his Trojans finale. He has to decide by Jan. 15 whether to make himself eligible for the next NFL draft, which will be held in late April in the same stadium where he will play Friday night.

"Obviously, I haven't been thinking about it a ton. I've been really focused on Ohio State. So I think after the bowl game, honestly, I'll be able to give a better answer," Darnold said Wednesday during his media session at the Cotton Bowl. "But I think just looking at all the factors, I can't really pinpoint anything specifically." In two seasons with the Trojans, though he didn't become the starter until the fourth game in 2016 on way to a Rose Bowl title, Darnold has thrown for 6,873 yards with 57 touchdowns and 21 interceptions while completing 65 percent of his passes. Often considered just a prototypical drop-back passer, he has also run for 350 yards and seven scores. The kid who has always dreamed of playing in the NFL is expected to be a top pick if he leaves USC early. Darnold said his decision on whether to go or stay won't be impacted by which NFL team might chose him. "It's been such a dream of mine to play in the NFL that whether I go or whether I stay at USC, to be able to have the opportunity to even play in the NFL and achieve that dream of mine is something that I've always looked at," Darnold said. "And for an organization to put their trust in me to be able to go out there and play football for them, I think any opportunity to play for anyone would b

12/11/17 - 2017 ALL-PAC-12 FOOTBALL FIRST TEAM (COACHES): QB Sam Darnold, RSo., USC,...USC's first teamers are quarterback Sam Darnold, tailback Ronald Jones II, defensive lineman Rasheem Green, outside linebacker Uchenna Nwosu, inside linebacker Cameron Smith, safety Marvell Tell III and wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr., who was chosen as a special teams player. This is USC's most first team honorees since 2011, when Troy also had 7. Darnold is the first Trojan quarterback on the first team since Mark Sanchez in 2008, Jones is just the second USC tailback named to the first team since 2005 (along with Javorius Allen in 2014) and Smith is Troy's first inside linebacker on the first team since Rey Maualuga in 2008. - USC Football
10/15/17 - No. 13-ranked USC rallied from a two-touchdown halftime deficit Saturday to defeat Utah 28-27 in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. The Trojans (6-1 overall and 4-1 Pac-12) trailed the Utes (4-2, 1-2) 21-7 at intermission, the result of three first-half fumbles. Quarterback Sam Darnold threw two of his three touchdown passes, running back Ronald Jones II scored on a front-flip into the end zone to give USC the lead, and defensive back Ajene Harris stopped Utah quarterback Troy Williams on a game-deciding two-point conversion attempt with an open-field tackle to preserve the win.

Jones' touchdown run capped an 11-play, 93-yard drive that included a mix of key pass completions and long rushes. The USC defense, which gave up several explosive plays in the first half, buckled down for much of the second half. Linebacker Cameron Smith set the pace with 16 tackles and an interception. Utah's only score of the second half was a big one. After Williams found a wide-open Siale Fakailoatonga for a 37-yard gain on a fourth down-and-one, Williams rushed for a one-yard touchdown. Williams finished the game with three touchdowns: one passing, one rushing and one receiving. - The Sports Xchange


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