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Sam Darnold: No team should tank their season because of me

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  • By Max Meyer NFL.com
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The Sam Darnold offseason hype train has shifted into another gear, and not just within the college football community.

The USC quarterback stole the show at an NFL Scouting Combine he didn't even participate in. At least one fan base has even embraced its pessimistic outlook in the near future due to the possibility of grabbing the ginger gunslinger in the NFL Draft.

Darnold, though, thinks that NFL teams should hold their horses when it comes to sacrificing an entire campaign just for him.

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"I don't think any team should tank their season because of me," Darnold said Tuesday on SportsCenter. "I'm just taking this every day, one day at a time and that's all I can do."

After coming off the bench in USC's first three games in 2016, Darnold's presence under center gave the entire team a jolt. The Trojans reeled off nine straight victories to close the season, capping it off with a thrilling 52-49 win over Penn State in the Rose Bowl. As a redshirt freshman, Darnold completed 67.2 percent of his passes, while accumulating 3,086 yards and 31 touchdowns through the air.

As a redshirt sophomore, he can apply for entry to the 2018 NFL Draft after this upcoming season. NFL Media Analyst Daniel Jeremiah, however, was told by sources close to Darnold at Nike's The Opening that the quarterback could end up staying in school for two more years.

For now, Darnold just seems focused on leading USC to lofty heights this season.

"I'm really just taking it one year at a time honestly," Darnold said. "That's my mindset."

He cited his play along with conversations with his family and coaches as the main factors for whether he decides to go pro as a redshirt sophomore.

With Darnold as a major hot topic this offseason, it goes to show what a difference a year can make. Last summer, he was battling Max Browne for USC's starting quarterback gig. This time around, despite his changed role with the team, Darnold intends on not letting the spotlight affect his persona.

"You kinda have to change the way you lead, how you become a leader on and off the field," Darnold said. "But really, as a whole, I'm just gonna be the same guy. I'm not gonna change who I am for anyone, even if I am the leader of the team."

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