It is not often that I fall madly in love with a player. Yet, that has occurred with Sam Darnold. In fact, it was love at first sight. I had heard a fair amount about the Redshirt Freshman QB for the Trojans, but had not seen him play, before their big tilt against Washington. I had read a little about the gaudy numbers he was putting up, and the resurgence he was leading under the helm for USC. Still, he was a relative unknown, and somebody that I did not figure I would feel strongly about. So, I tuned into the UW vs USC matchup, mainly to see how Jake Browning and the Huskies would hold up against a legitimate threat. But, it was not the Washington signal-caller that caught my attention, it was the man on the other side of the field. I couldn’t quite put my finger on one thing that stole my heart; it was the whole package. He has great size, standing at 6’4’’, while weighing in at 235 lbs. He is strong, but also very mobile. However, the mobility was less running for yards (although he can do that), but mostly his movement in the pocket, and his unbelievable gift of seeing the entire field, and keeping his eyes downfield for the entire play. If there is one thing that makes a QB great, I would say it is one’s patience and eyes. I have had the luxury to cheer on Tom Brady every weekend, and his vision has always been tremendous. This combination of vision and playmaking ability that is seen so greatly in Darnold, is also seen amongst NFL greats, Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson, and Big Ben Roethlisberger. Not to mention, Darnold has terrific arm strength and accuracy, to make all the throws in the world (even the difficult ones he makes on the run). While all of these traits are extraordinarily impressive, perhaps the most incredible element of Sam Darnold is his poise. For a Freshman, the calmness he possesses, and leadership he exudes to his teammates, is nothing short of incredible. I really wanted to write about my first impressions of Darnold, yet I elected to hold off and wait to see him play in another game. That next game just so happened to be the Rose Bowl. In an all-timer against Penn State, Sam displayed all these tools. He led a poignant Trojans offense to a dominant first half. However, the offense stuttered a bit, while PSU came out on fire to start the second half. Sure enough, Darnold was down two touchdowns, and faced real adversity. How did he respond? He put the entire team on his back leading multiple awesome TD drives, including one to tie the Nittany Lions at 49 with under two minutes to play. What happened after Darnold threw an absolute dime to score the game-tying TD, he acted as if nothing happened, and it was just another play. One criticism of Darnold is the fact that he does not seem to know when to just throw the ball way, and concede a play as over. He is such a good playmaker that he is confident that he can always make a play. But, when you see plays like the throw he made to Juju Smith-Schuster, you accept all his flaws (which are basically one). The Rose Bowl was a coming out party for Darnold, and the general public seemed to learn how much of a stud he truly is. The dynamic between the top 2 draft eligible QB’s in the 2018 class will make Los Angeles a fascinating place to watch college football next season. Regardless, I love Sam Darnold.