Sam Darnold
refer to caption
Darnold in 2018
No. 14 – New York Jets
Personal information
Born: (1997-06-05) June 5, 1997 (age 23)
Capistrano Beach, California
Height:6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)
Weight:225 lb (102 kg)
Career information
High school:San Clemente
(San Clemente, California)
NFL Draft:2018 / Round: 1 / Pick: 3
Career history
* New York Jets ( 2018–present)
Roster status:Active
Career highlights and awards
* First-team All-Pac-12 (2017)
Career NFL statistics as of 2018
Passing attempts:414
Passing completions:239
Completion percentage:57.7
Passing yards:2,865
Passer rating:77.6
Player stats at
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, 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.

Early yearsEdit

Darnold was born in Capistrano Beach, California on June 5, 1997. He started playing basketball when he was five years old.[1]

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[1] 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."[2]

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.[1] 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.[3] He missed much of his junior year with a foot injury.[1] 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.[4] He ended his senior season with 3,000 passing yards and 39 touchdowns, along with 800 rushing yards and 13 rushing touchdowns.[3]

Darnold was rated by as a four-star recruit and was ranked as the eighth best dual-threat quarterback in his class and 179th best player overall.[5] 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.[1] 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,[6] and extended to him a scholarship to play for the Trojans.[7]

Name Hometown High school / college Height Weight Commit date
Sam Darnold
San Clemente, California San Clemente 6 ft 5 in (1.96 m) 215 lb (98 kg) Jul 18, 2014 
Scout:75px   Rivals:75px   ESPN grade: 83
Overall recruiting rankings:
  • Note: In many cases, Scout and Rivals may conflict in their listings of height and weight.
  • In these cases, an average of the two was taken. ESPN grades are on a 100-point scale.


College careerEdit

2015 seasonEdit

USC defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox, who recruited Darnold to the school, wanted him to play linebacker before he declined.[1] In the 2015 season, Darnold redshirted for his freshman year as he was behind Cody Kessler and Max Browne on the depth chart.[8]

2016 seasonEdit

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.[9] 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.[10] 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.[11] 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.[4] 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.[12]

USC was invited to play in the 2017 Rose Bowl, their first appearance in the bowl in eight seasons.[4] 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.[13]

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.[14] Darnold was also named to the Football Writers Association of America's Freshman All-America team.[15][16]

2017 seasonEdit

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.[17] 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.[18] 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.[19] 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.[20]


Year Team Games Passing Rushing Defense
G GS Cmp Att Pct Yds TD Int Rtg Att Yds Avg TD Solo Total
2016 USC 13 10 246 366 67.2 3,086 31 9 161.1 62 250 4.0 2 3 3
2017 USC 14 14 303 480 63.1 4,143 26 13 148.1 75 82 1.1 5 2 2
Career 27 24 549 846 64.9 7,229 57 22 155.6 137 332 2.4 7 5 5


Professional careerEdit

On January 3, 2018, Darnold announced that he would enter the 2018 NFL Draft.[22]

Pre-draft measureables
Ht WtArm lengthHand size 40-yd dash 10-yd split 20-yd split 20-ss 3-cone Vert Broad BP
6 ft 3⅜ in 221 lb31 in9⅜ in 4.85 s 1.67 s 2.81 s 4.40 s 6.96 s 26½ in 8 ft 9 in

Darnold was selected by the New York Jets in the first round, with the third overall selection, of the 2018 NFL Draft.[23][24][25] On July 30, 2018, Darnold signed a 4-year deal worth $30.25 fully guaranteed featuring a $20 million signing bonus with the Jets.[26]

2018 seasonEdit

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.[27] On August 29, the Jets named Darnold the starter for Week 1 of the season.[28]

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.[29] 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.[30] 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.[31] 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.[32][33] During Week 4 against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Darnold finished with 167 passing yards and a touchdown as the Jets lost 31–12.[34] 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.[35] During Week 6 against the Indianapolis Colts, Darnold finished with 280 passing yards, two touchdowns, and an interception as the Jets won 42–34.[36] During Week 7 against the Minnesota Vikings, Darnold committed 4 turnovers, including 3 interceptions and a lost fumble.[37] He finished with 206 passing yards and a touchdown as the Jets lost 37–17.[38] During Week 8 against the Chicago Bears, Darnold finished with 153 passing yards and a touchdown as the Jets lost 24–10.[39]

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.[40] Darnold suffered through a foot injury, which sidelined him and caused Josh McCown to start for the Jets.[41] 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.[42] 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.[43] 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.[44] 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.[45]

Playing styleEdit

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".[46][47]

NFL statisticsEdit

General Passing Rushing
Season Team GP GS W–L Comp Att Pct Yds Y/A Y/G TD Int Rate Sck Att Yds Y/A Y/G TD Fum
2018 NYJ 13 13 4–9 239 414 57.7% 2,865 6.9 220.4 17 15 77.6 30 44 138 3.1 10.6 1 5
Career 13 13 4–9 239 414 57.7% 2,865 6.9 220.4 17 15 77.6 30 44 138 3.1 10.6 1 5

NFL recordsEdit

  • Youngest quarterback to post a quarterback rating higher than 110 — 116.8 rating at 21 years, 97 days old[48]

Jets franchise recordsEdit

  • Highest completion percentage by a rookie quarterback in a single season (2018) — 57.7[49]
  • Highest rookie quarterback rating, minimum 7 appearances — 77.6[49]

Personal lifeEdit

Darnold's mother is a physical education teacher at Shorecliffs Middle School.[50] His older sister, Franki, is a college volleyball player at the University of Rhode Island.[1] His grandfather, Dick Hammer, was a Marlboro Man actor and USC athlete.[51]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 Helfand, Zach (August 8, 2016). "Stoic, confident Sam Darnold is making USC's quarterback decision difficult". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 4, 2017.
  2. Helfand, Zach (October 12, 2016). "USC's Sam Darnold's vision on the field makes a difference — so do his basketball skills". Los Angeles Times ( Retrieved January 4, 2017.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Stella, Pete (January 3, 2017). "Before Sam Darnold made Rose Bowl magic, he was star at San Clemente". Retrieved January 3, 2017.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Kaufman, Joey (December 24, 2016). "Most Influential 2016: Sam Darnold helped save USC's season". Orange County Register. Retrieved January 2, 2017.
  5. "Sam Darnold". Retrieved January 2, 2017.
  6. Myerburg, Paul (April 22, 2017). "How USC nearly missed out on signing quarterback Sam Darnold". USA Today. Retrieved April 23, 2017.
  7. Castillo, Michael (July 18, 2014). "Sam Darnold Commits to USC's 2015 Recruiting Class".
  8. Wolf, Scott (September 7, 2015). "USC freshman quarterback Sam Darnold looks to 2016".
  9. Helfand, Zach (September 19, 2016). "Sam Darnold in, Max Browne out as USC starting quarterback". Los Angeles Times ( Retrieved September 20, 2016.
  10. Wolf, Scott (September 23, 2016). "USC QB Sam Darnold overcomes everything but poor coaching decisions". Los Angeles Daily News. Retrieved January 2, 2016.
  11. "Sam Darnold leads USC to 26–13 upset over No. 4 Washington" (in en-US). Chicago Tribune. Tribune news services.
  12. "Pac-12 Football Awards And All-Conference Team Announced". Pac-12 Conference. November 29, 2016. Retrieved January 2, 2016.
  13. Kirschner, Alex (January 2, 2017). "Sam Darnold breaks Vince Young's Rose Bowl record, and 18 more wild numbers from USC-PSU". SB Nation. Retrieved January 2, 2017.
  14. Trevino, Chris (January 4, 2017). "Darnold wins Archie Griffin Award". Retrieved January 4, 2017.
  15. "FWAA Names 2016 Sound Mind Sound Body Freshman All-America Team". FWAA. January 9, 2017.
  16. Jeremiah, Daniel (July 11, 2017). "First Look: Scouting USC QB Sam Darnold". NFL. Retrieved April 17, 2018.
  17. "Sam Darnold's 4 TDs carry USC past Stanford 42–24" (in en-US). FOX Sports. September 10, 2017.
  18. Miller, Jeff (September 17, 2017). "Miller: Sam Darnold and USC survive scare the size of Texas" (in en-US). Orange County Register.
  19. "No. 9 USC holds off No. 15 Stanford for first Pac-12 championship since 2008" (in en). USA TODAY. Associated Press.
  20. "Cotton Bowl: Ohio State smothers USC en route to 24–7 victory" (in en-US). FOX Sports. December 30, 2017.
  21. "Sam Darnold". Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved November 20, 2016.
  22. Parr, Dan (January 3, 2018). "Sam Darnold intends to enter 2018 NFL Draft".
  23. Hanzus, Dan (April 26, 2018). "Sam Darnold selected third overall by New York Jets".
  24. Wesseling, Chris. "Jets GM: Sam Darnold will compete for starting QB gig". NFL.
  25. Wesseling, Chris. "Jets CEO: Sam Darnold shifts team into new gear".
  26. Patra, Kevin. "Jets sign Sam Darnold to rookie deal".
  27. Knoblauch, Austin (August 11, 2018). "Sam Darnold flashes starting QB potential in Jets' win".
  28. Patra, Kevin (August 29, 2018). "Jets rookie QB Sam Darnold to start Week 1 at Lions". Retrieved August 29, 2018.
  29. "Jets poised to make Sam Darnold youngest Week 1 NFL starting QB since 1970 merger" (in en). 2018-08-29.
  30. Bergman, Jeremy. "Sam Darnold's resiliency shines through in Jets' victory".
  31. Vasquez, Andy (September 16, 2018). "Instant analysis: Jets fall back to earth with clunker, lose to Dolphins 20–12". Retrieved September 21, 2018.
  32. Withers, Tom (September 20, 2018). "Jets’ Darnold loses unexpected rookie duel with Mayfield". Retrieved September 21, 2018.
  33. "New York Jets at Cleveland Browns – September 20th, 2018".
  34. Long, Mark (September 30, 2018). "Bortles tosses 2 TD passes Jags handle Darnold, Jets 31–12". Retrieved October 1, 2018.
  35. Waszak, Dennis Jr. (October 7, 2018). "Crowell, big-play Jets romp past Broncos 34–16".,-big-play-Jets-romp-past-Broncos-34-16. Retrieved October 8, 2018.
  36. Waszak, Dennis Jr. (October 14, 2018). "Myers kicks Jets-record 7 FGs in 42–34 win over Colts". Retrieved October 14, 2018.
  37. Waszak, Dennis Jr. (October 22, 2018). "Cousins, Vikings look to improve, even after blowout of Jets". Retrieved October 23, 2018.
  38. Waszak, Dennis Jr. (October 21, 2018). "Cousins, Murray lift Vikings past Darnold, Jets 37–17". Retrieved October 23, 2018.
  39. Seligman, Andrew (October 28, 2018). "Trubisky throws 2 TDs as Bears beat Jets 24–10". Retrieved October 29, 2018.
  40. Wine, Steven (November 4, 2018). "4 interceptions help Dolphins beat Darnold and Jets, 13–6". Retrieved November 5, 2018. "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."
  41. Shapiro, Michael. "Sam Darnold out vs. Patriots, Josh McCown will start".
  42. Wawrow, John (December 9, 2018). "Darnold leads Jets to 27–23 win over Allen, Bills". Retrieved December 9, 2018.
  43. Waszak, Dennis Jr. (December 16, 2018). "Watson leads Texans to 29–22 comeback win over Darnold, Jets". Retrieved December 17, 2018. "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."
  44. "Rodgers leads Packers to wild 44–38 overtime win over Jets". December 23, 2018.
  45. Knoblauch, Austin. "Jets GM: Sam Darnold makes coaching job 'attractive'".
  46. Greenawalt, Tyler (2018-08-06). "Sam Darnold's mobility doesn't get enough attention" (in en).
  47. Brooks, Bucky (2019-02-27). "Book on Sam Darnold: Browns, Jets, Giants fit streaky USC QB" (in en).
  48. Nania, Michael (October 15, 2018). "Sam Darnold is breaking rookie records with his early-career efficiency". SB Nation.
  49. 49.0 49.1 "New York Jets Single-Season Passing Leaders" (in en).
  50. Kaufman, Joey (August 27, 2017). "Sam Darnold slowly learning to live in the spotlight" (in en-US). Orange County Register.
  51. Feldman, Bruce (October 17, 2016). "Meet Sam Darnold, the star freshman QB who has saved USC's season".

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