DALLAS – Friday night, USC quarterback Sam Darnold will face Ohio State’s pass rush in the Cotton Bowl. Wednesday, it was the Ohio media covering the Buckeyes who pursued him.
If Darnold, a third-year sophomore, enters the NFL draft he would be a potential No. 1 overall pick. And the Cleveland Browns have clinched the No. 1 pick.
So, what’s going to happen? Will he go into the draft and would he be OK with playing for a franchise that has excavated its way to new depths of bad football year after year?
Darnold said maybe and yes. Maybe he will enter the draft. And yes he would be fine with playing in Cleveland.
“I don’t know when I’m going to come out, but I think whenever that time does come, I’d be so honored to play for any team. Whoever puts their trust in me to lead the organization or just come in and do the best that they can, I’m going to do that. That’s kind of my mindset whenever I go into the NFL,” he said.
“It’s been such a dream of mine to play in the NFL … I think any opportunity to play for anyone would be amazing and something I’ve always dreamed of.”
Darnold used the words “awesome,” and “so special,” to describe being the No. 1 overall pick, which sounds like a player who might be leaning toward entering the draft. Or at least one who has given it some thought.
He also said he likes being talked about as a possible high draft pick.
“It’s been a dream of mine to play in the NFL, so whenever I hear my name being talked about in someone’s mock draft or whether or not he should stay or go, it’s always interesting to listen to but at the same time I don’t take it for granted,” Darnold said. “I think it’s cool, to be honest, to be in that conversation.”
But a few minutes later, he said the discussions and decisions about his future will come after No. 8 USC (11-2) plays No. 5 Ohio State (11-2) at 8:30 p.m. Friday.
“After the bowl game I’ll be able to give a better answer. It’s looking at all the factors,” he said. “It’s probably going to be the biggest decision I would have made up to that point in my life. It’s going to be a hard decision but something, looking back at it, I’ll think I made the right decision.”
UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen, in contrast to Darnold, has seemed to indicate twice recently that he wants no part of being draft by the Browns.
Rosen, also regarded as a possible No. 1 overall pick, told espn.com on Tuesday that he would rather be drafted lower by “the right team” than higher by “the wrong team.”
Without mentioning Rosen by name, Darnold said he would be happy to be picked by any team.
“I honestly don’t look at it that way. Anywhere I land would be a great destination,” he said.
Reach Jim Naveau at 567-242-0414 or on Twitter at @Lima_Naveau.