Carolina Panthers rookie QB Matt Corral says he took 'easy way out' attending Ole Miss, ponders schools that 'would have made me compete'

SPARTANBURG, S.C. -- Carolina Panthers rookie quarterback Matt Corral might have chosen a different college than Ole Miss if he had to do it over again.

"I took the easy way out because I felt I could play right away," Corral said on Tuesday as he reported to Wofford College for his first NFL training camp. "Knowing what I know now and trusting my work ethic, I would have [gone] to a place that would have made me compete."

Corral initially committed to the USC, then switched to Florida before ultimately opting for Ole Miss, which didn't have a consistent history of winning like the other two programs.

Corral made the comment Tuesday when asked about preparing to compete with veterans Baker Mayfield and Sam Darnold for the starting job after being the expected starter his past three seasons at Ole Miss. He doesn't have the mindset that 2022 is a developmental year to learn behind Mayfield and Darnold, who have more than 100 NFL starts between them since being the first and third picks of the 2018 draft, respectively.

"I'm going to try and compete and get the starting job," Corral said. "Whatever that takes, I'm going to do. Wherever the cards fall, they fall.

"There is definitely a lot to learn, and I know this is a process. It's all about the longevity of getting a job. I'm in a rush, but I'm not, if that makes sense."

Corral was projected to be a mid-to-late first-round pick in April but fell to the Panthers in the third round. He said at the time he had a chip on his shoulder before the draft, "but it just got bigger."

Panthers general manager Scott Fitterer said the acquisition of Mayfield in early July would be good for Corral because it would allow him to take his time and develop instead of potentially being rushed into a starting job.

Corral never has taken that approach.

"He's been very clear to me that's not his approach," coach Matt Rhule said when asked whether this would be a developmental year for Corral. "I want us to be a competitive team. I talk about the competition all the time. You've got to fight for what you want."

Rhule reminded that Russell Wilson beat out veteran Matt Flynn for the starting job as a rookie in 2012 despite being a third-round pick out of Wisconsin. Wilson started every game and went 11-5, then the next season led the Seattle Seahawks to the Super Bowl.

"I want competition," Rhule said. "The best player will play."

Corral believes he will be a factor in that competition.

"We all want to be the guy," he said. "You go to any quarterback room, everybody wants to be the guy. It's all about competing and making each other better."