Trevor Denton | Daily TrojanWhen USC played Utah two weeks ago, I was out of town for a wedding. During the reception, my dad and I were able to sneak up to our hotel room and watch college football, right when the Cupid Shuffle was just beginning to pick up (impeccable timing if I might add). My dad, a lifelong Georgia fan and grad, watched the Bulldogs play Missouri on his phone, and I watched the Utah game on the TV screen (bigger game, bigger screen — our family has some strict rules when it comes to sports). Once Georgia gained a comfortable lead, my dad’s attention swayed more and more towards the TV. It was the first time this season that we were able to take in a USC game together at the same time in the same place. What was my dad’s biggest takeaway after watching the Trojans fight and claw for a comeback victory over the Utes? “Darnold just isn’t ready yet,” he stated matter of factly, not even needing to say what the quarterback was not ready for. After hearing similar comments dating back to the Western Michigan game, for the first time I agreed. Darnold is just not ready for the NFL. Outside of my dad’s opinion on Darnold, many are echoing similar sentiments that the redshirt sophomore quarterback should stay in school for another year. Reports have surfaced this week indicating that he’s leaning toward another year on campus. Whether or not that is true, it seems reasonable to assume that there’s a chance he’s staying at USC after this season. It’s certainly not a foregone conclusion like it was after the Rose Bowl when he was the talk of the NFL Combine one year before even being eligible for the draft. His status is certainly unclear enough to where that guy who wore a Jets Darnold jersey at the Cal game is questioning his purchase at least a little bit (for two reasons — the 3-4 Jets are also much better than expected). Just because I don’t think Darnold is ready for the NFL does not mean I see him as a bad player. In fact, at times he borders on incredible. He makes inhuman throws on the run, he evades tacklers and he has a tendency to thrive in big moments and situations (like the Rose Bowl and Texas game). But now that he’s played a more full sampling of college games, it’s clear: Darnold just doesn’t know how to take care of the football. Through eight games, he’s thrown 10 interceptions and lost seven fumbles, giving USC the second most turnovers in FBS. I have reached the point where I can’t defend his 2017 campaign anymore. When Darnold fumbled on the offense’s first snap against Notre Dame on Saturday, it set the tone for the team’s utter dismantling, but it also summarized his season so far. He has constantly put himself and his team in situations that even he can’t escape from. Despite his knack for turning the ball over, many draft experts are still placing the redshirt sophomore high on their boards. In Mel Kiper Jr.’s latest “Big Board” update, he kept Darnold as his number one overall prospect, citing his “big frame,” and “quick decisions.” Todd McShay recently commented that he was “not concerned about Darnold’s picks,” and that he “[loves] his ability to manipulate the pocket and keep his eyes downfield.” Darnold could very well end up being a top choice in this year’s draft regardless of how many interceptions he throws or fumbles he loses. After all, Deshaun Watson threw 17 interceptions during his junior year and still ended up being the No. 12 overall pick and is already a leading candidate for Rookie of the Year (and through six NFL games, he’s only thrown five interceptions). Perhaps a pro coaching staff will fix some of his mechanics and repair his decision making process. Regardless, Darnold should absolutely stay on campus for one more year. The NFL isn’t going anywhere and neither should Darnold. Coaches are thrilled when they land five star prospects out of high school. Imagine the USC staff’s jubilation if Darnold, a Rose Bowl MVP and Pac-12 Offensive Freshman of the Year returns. Not only would he instantly make the Trojans national title contenders again, but he would be able to hone his craft in a comfortable environment without the insane pressures of the NFL. This season may be a lost cause, but if Darnold comes back next year, he will have one more chance to solidify a legacy as one of the greatest quarterbacks in USC history. Darnold may not be ready for the NFL, but that’s OK. One more year on campus will only improve his confidence and maturity once he reaches the pros. The league will still be waiting. Trevor Denton is a sophomore majoring in journalism. He is also the deputy sports editor of the Daily Trojan. His column, “T-Time”, runs Wednesdays.