The hype surrounding the USC football program heading into the 2017 season can’t be ignored. After its thrilling 52-49 win over Penn State in the 2017 Rose Bowl, and with a legit Heisman contender in redshirt sophomore QB Sam Darnold and important starters returning on both sides of the ball, big things are expected for the Trojans this season.
The amount of star power on the USC team can only be rivaled by a few other teams around the country, and was made more evident recently when Sports Illustrated released its preseason list of Top 100 College Football players for 2017. The list included six Trojans, which tied for most in the PAC-12 conference with Washington.
Only Alabama (8) and Florida State (7) had more representatives than USC.
Darnold is the ringleader here and ranks 11th. He’s the third-highest ranked quarterback behind Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield (No. 2) and Louisville’s Lamar Jackson (No. 3). Here’s what SI had to say about Darnold:
Darnold’s flat-out unconscious Rose Bowl performance (33 of 53 for 453 yards with five touchdowns against one interception) ensured that he would spend all summer in this year’s Heisman conversation, to say nothing of next year’s No. 1 pick conversation. But the Trojans’ true source of optimism for Darnold’s upcoming redshirt sophomore season was the steady performances he turned in over a year-ending nine-game winning streak that landed him among the nation’s top 10 quarterbacks in completion percentage. It should be noted that aside from the Rose Bowl, most of that run took place outside the national spotlight as USC dug itself out of a sloppy September. Will Darnold be able to replicate that excellence with College Football Playoff implications hanging on every throw?
Other Trojans included on the Top 100 list are linebacker Cameron Smith (No. 16), cornerback Iman Marshall (No. 46), tailback Ronald Jones II (No. 92), linebacker Porter Gustin (No. 96) and wideout Deontay Burnett (No. 98)