Darnold in 2018
|No. 14 – New York Jets|
|Born:||June 5, 1997|
Capistrano Beach, California
|Height:||6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)|
|Weight:||225 lb (102 kg)|
|High school:||San Clemente|
(San Clemente, California)
|NFL Draft:||2018 / Round: 1 / Pick: 3|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Career NFL statistics as of Week 1, 2019|
|Player stats at PFR|
Samuel Richard Darnold (born June 5, 1997) is an American football quarterback for the New York Jets of the National Football League (NFL). He played college football at USC, and was selected third overall by the Jets in the 2018 NFL Draft.
Darnold was a two-sport athlete at San Clemente High School, playing football and basketball. Considered a four-star recruit by Rivals.com, he was recruited to USC and joined the football team. After redshirting his freshman year, he served as the second-string quarterback in 2016 before being named the starter after three games. As a redshirt freshman starter, he set multiple USC freshman records and led the Trojans to nine consecutive wins that culminated with a victory at the 2017 Rose Bowl. Darnold declared for the 2018 NFL Draft at the conclusion of his redshirt sophomore season.
Darnold was born in Capistrano Beach, California on June 5, 1997. He started playing basketball when he was five years old.
Darnold attended San Clemente High School in San Clemente, California. After playing baseball in his freshman year, he played football and basketball. During his high school basketball career, Darnold excelled, and was named South Coast League Most Valuable Player twice, along with being named to the all-CIF team. Basketball coach Marc Popovich stated Darnold's basketball skills helped translate into football, being the "only guy [I've] ever had who could get a defensive rebound and launch a 70-foot pass on target, pretty much in the same motion, to a guy breaking out in the fastbreak. It was almost Wes Unseld-like." Popovich added that Darnold could have played college basketball in the Pac-12 Conference or the Mountain West Conference "at worst."
On the football team, Darnold played wide receiver and linebacker, though he played quarterback as a sophomore after the starting quarterback was injured in a game against Tesoro High School. He threw a touchdown pass and scored the game-winning two-point conversion, but returned to playing receiver and linebacker a week later. When he legitimately became the school's quarterback, Darnold broke the school record for the most touchdown passes in a game when he threw five on two occasions. He missed much of his junior year with a foot injury. In his senior year, San Clemente reached the CIF-Southern Section Southwest Division championship game, where they lost 37–44 to Trabuco Hills High School. He ended his senior season with 3,000 passing yards and 39 touchdowns, along with 800 rushing yards and 13 rushing touchdowns.
Darnold was rated by Rivals.com as a four-star recruit and was ranked as the eighth best dual-threat quarterback in his class and 179th best player overall. However, he did not have much footage of him performing at recruiting camps, preferring to show his play in games. As a result, San Clemente head football coach Jaime Ortiz elected to provide video of his basketball career to football coaches. He received scholarship offers to play college football from schools like Oregon, Utah, Northwestern and Duke. During a football camp, USC coaches Clay Helton and Steve Sarkisian were impressed by Darnold's performance, and extended to him a scholarship to play for the Trojans.
|Name||Hometown||High school / college||Height||Weight||Commit date|
|San Clemente, California||San Clemente||6 ft 5 in (1.96 m)||215 lb (98 kg)||Jul 18, 2014|
|Recruiting star ratings: Scout: Rivals: 247Sports: ESPN grade: 83|
|Overall recruiting rankings:|
USC defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox, who recruited Darnold to the school, wanted him to play linebacker before he declined. In the 2015 season, Darnold redshirted for his freshman year as he was behind Cody Kessler and Max Browne on the depth chart.
Entering the 2016 season as a redshirt freshman, Darnold was the second-string quarterback behind Max Browne. In three games as backup quarterback, Darnold saw limited action, completing 14-of-22 passes for two touchdowns and an interception. After a 1–2 start to the season, Browne was benched in favor of Darnold. In his first career start with USC against the Utah Utes, Darnold completed 18-of-26 passes for 253 yards and recorded a rushing touchdown as USC lost 27–31. After the loss, Darnold's Trojans did not lose a game for the remainder of the season, including a 26–13 upset win over the #4-ranked Washington Huskies. The USC offense recorded an average of 37 points and 518 yards per game, while Darnold set the school record for most passing touchdowns by a freshman with 26, ten more than the previous record set by Todd Marinovich in 1989. Against Arizona and California, Darnold became the first quarterback in school history to record five touchdown passes in consecutive games, while also throwing for multiple touchdowns in eight straight games, the first USC quarterback to do so since Matt Leinart did in 2004. On the ground, Darnold recorded 230 rushing yards, the most by a USC quarterback since Reggie Perry's 254 yards in 1991. Darnold was named the 2016 Pac-12 Conference Freshman Offensive Player of the Year in late November.
USC was invited to play in the 2017 Rose Bowl, their first appearance in the bowl in eight seasons. In the 52–49 victory over Penn State, Darnold completed 33-of-53 passes for 453 yards, while also setting Rose Bowl records in passing touchdowns (5) and total yards (453). The 453 yards recorded ranked second in the bowl's history, only trailing Danny O'Neil's 456 in the 1995 game.
On January 4, 2017, it was announced that Darnold was awarded the Archie Griffin Award, which was awarded annually to college football's most valuable player to his team throughout the season, an award no other freshman had ever won previously. Darnold was also named to the Football Writers Association of America's Freshman All-America team.
Entering the 2017 season as a redshirt sophomore, Darnold became an early favorite for the Heisman Trophy, and eventually a first round pick in the 2018 draft. The season did not start the way Darnold had expected. In six games, he had matched the number of interceptions that he had thrown the previous year. This was accredited to breaking in a new receiver group, numerous injuries, and questionable coaching decisions. Despite this, he led USC to a dominant victory over Stanford by a score of 42–24. He then led an overtime victory over the Texas Longhorns during which he drove the Trojans to a game tying field goal in the final 39 seconds of regulation. Darnold guided USC to the Pac-12 Conference championship with a 31–28 victory over Stanford in the conference title game where he was named the game's MVP after throwing for over 300 yards and two touchdowns. The win earned USC a spot in the 2017 Cotton Bowl where, despite 356 yards passing the Trojans were soundly defeated by the Ohio State Buckeyes, 24–7.
|Ht||Wt||Arm length||Hand size||40-yard dash||10-yd split||20-yd split||20-ss||3-cone||Vert jump||Broad|
|6 ft 3 3⁄8 in
|9 3⁄8 in
|4.85 s||1.67 s||2.81 s||4.40 s||6.96 s||26 1⁄2 in
|8 ft 9 in|
|All values from NFL Combine|
Darnold was selected by the New York Jets in the first round, with the third overall selection, of the 2018 NFL Draft. On July 30, 2018, Darnold signed a 4-year deal worth $30.25 fully guaranteed featuring a $20 million signing bonus with the Jets.
Darnold made his professional debut on August 10, in the first preseason game against the Atlanta Falcons, where he finished with 96 passing yards and a touchdown as the Jets won 17–0. On August 29, the Jets named Darnold the starter for Week 1 of the season.
Darnold played his first regular season game on September 10, 2018 during Monday Night Football against the Detroit Lions, making him the youngest opening-day starting quarterback since the AFL–NFL merger. His first pass resulted in an interception returned for a touchdown by Quandre Diggs. However, he responded well and finished with 198 passing yards and 2 touchdowns as the Jets won 48–17. During the Jets' home opener against the Miami Dolphins in Week 2, Darnold finished with 334 passing yards, a touchdown, and two interceptions as the Jets lost 20–12. During a Thursday Night Football game against the Cleveland Browns in Week 3, Darnold finished with 169 passing yards and two interceptions as the Jets lost 21–17. During Week 4 against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Darnold finished with 167 passing yards and a touchdown as the Jets lost 31–12. During Week 5 against the Denver Broncos, Darnold finished with 198 passing yards, three touchdowns, and an interception, while the Jets combined for 323 rushing yards and won 34–16. During Week 6 against the Indianapolis Colts, Darnold finished with 280 passing yards, two touchdowns, and an interception as the Jets won 42–34. During Week 7 against the Minnesota Vikings, Darnold committed 4 turnovers, including 3 interceptions and a lost fumble. He finished with 206 passing yards and a touchdown as the Jets lost 37–17. During Week 8 against the Chicago Bears, Darnold finished with 153 passing yards and a touchdown as the Jets lost 24–10.
During a rematch against the Dolphins in Week 9, Darnold threw four interceptions, finishing the game with 229 passing yards in a 13–6 Jets' loss. Darnold suffered through a foot injury, which sidelined him and caused Josh McCown to start for the Jets. After missing three games due to a foot injury, Darnold returned to action in a Week 14 matchup against the Buffalo Bills and fellow rookie quarterback Josh Allen. Darnold temporarily left the game due to an injury on the same foot, but eventually returned, finishing with 170 passing yards, a touchdown, and an interception as the Jets ended their six-game losing streak and won 27–23. He led the team on its game-winning drive, completing a 37-yard pass to Robby Anderson to help set up a touchdown run by Elijah McGuire. During Saturday Night Football against the Houston Texans in Week 15, Darnold finished with 253 passing yards and two touchdowns as the Jets lost 29–22. During Week 16 against the Green Bay Packers, Darnold finished with 341 passing yards and three touchdowns. Marred by 16 penalties, the Jets squandered a 15-point lead and lost 44–38 in overtime. During Week 17 against the New England Patriots, Darnold finished with 167 passing yards as the Jets lost 38–3 in the regular season finale. Darnold finished the season with 2,865 passing yards, 17 passing touchdowns, and 15 interceptions.
During the Jets' home opener against the Buffalo Bills in Week 1, Darnold finished with 179 passing yards and a touchdown. Despite the Jets having a 16–0 lead midway through the third quarter and four takeaways, the team lost 16–17. On September 12, it was reported that Darnold was diagnosed with mononucleosis, and he subsequently missed three games. He returned in Week 6 against the Dallas Cowboys where he finished with 338 passing yards, two touchdowns, and an interception as the Jets won 24–22.
Though not regarded widely as a dual-threat quarterback, Darnold has been praised for his mobility in the pocket, which, when needed, allows him to escape pressure, extend plays and throw on the run, similar to Aaron Rodgers. He has also been described as a "gunslinger".
- Youngest quarterback to post a quarterback rating higher than 110 — 116.8 rating at 21 years, 97 days old
Jets franchise records
- Highest completion percentage by a rookie quarterback in a single season (2018) — 57.7
- Highest rookie quarterback rating, minimum 7 appearances — 77.6
Darnold's mother is a physical education teacher at Shorecliffs Middle School. His older sister, Franki, is a college volleyball player at the University of Rhode Island. His grandfather, Dick Hammer, was a Marlboro Man actor and USC athlete.
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Darnold went 21 for 39 for 229 yards and a passer rating of 31.8. He came into the game tied for the NFL lead with 10 interceptions, and the four picks were a new high.
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The loss ruined what was a terrific night for Darnold, who made plays with his arm and legs all game. The No. 3 overall pick was 24 of 38 for 253 yards and touchdown passes to Robby Anderson and Andre Roberts.
- Associated Press (December 23, 2018). "Rodgers leads Packers to wild 44–38 overtime win over Jets". ESPN.com. Retrieved December 31, 2018.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
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- "New York Jets Single-Season Passing Leaders". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Retrieved January 4, 2019.
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- Feldman, Bruce (October 17, 2016). "Meet Sam Darnold, the star freshman QB who has saved USC's season". Foxsports.com. Retrieved November 26, 2016.