4 things to know about Jets quarterback Sam Darnold
On April 26, 2018, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell made an announcement that changed the Jets’ franchise. With the third pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, the New York Jets selected Sam Darnold, quarterback out of USC. Darnold put his name on the map in 2016 when he started for the Trojans as a redshirt freshman. He threw for 31 touchdowns and nine interceptions while leading USC to a Rose Bowl victory over Penn State.
During his sophomore season, Darnold struggled with turnovers. However, this did not alter his draft stock. The Browns went in a different direction selecting Baker Mayfield first overall before the Giants took Saquon Barkley. Darnold fell right into the Jets’ laps, and they might have escaped with the steal of the draft at number three.
All that is known of Darnold is that he is a 6’4″ strong-armed quarterback with enormous potential. Let’s learn a little more about the face of the Jets.
4. Darnold Had a Dream of Playing Basketball
Before Darnold was the big, blonde, Boomer Esiason like quarterback in New York, he had a different dream. Growing up, Darnold loves to play basketball. He was a huge Lakers fans who grew up idolizing Kobe Bryant.
While at San Clemente High School, Darnold was the league MVP as a sophomore. He led his team to two league championships. The speed of the game is what ultimately attracted Darnold to basketball. Before he was throwing touchdowns on an NFL field, he was just a kid pretending to be in the NBA.
3. Legendary Grandfather
Most athletes have phenomenal genetics, which carries them to pro sports. There are countless stories of fathers or mothers or uncles playing sports before their sons make it big. For Darnold, it was his grandfather. Dick Hammer, Darnold’s grandfather, died just two months after the quarterback’s second birthday. Despite not knowing him that well, Darnold carries his grandfather’s athletic ability.
Hammer played basketball for USC and led them to the Final Four in 29154. After he hung up his hoop shoes, Hammer picked up a volleyball, and it carried him all the way to the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo. Hammer was also a TV star. He had many roles on TV shows, but his big break was for a commercial. Hammer is the original Marlboro Man. The cool, tough guy demeanor that Hammer portrayed something that his grandson is hoping to bring to the football field.
2. Darnold’s first high school start was a memorable one
Having lost their starting quarterback, San Clemente called upon a sophomore named Sam Darnold to lead them against Tesoro. Down 21-7 heading into the fourth quarter, all hope seemed lost. Darnold led San Clemente to a 29-21 victory by scoring 22 unanswered points in the fourth quarter. The sophomore finished 23-37 for 237 yards and two touchdowns.
Leading a huge comeback in your first start at 15-years old is one way to make an impression. From there, Darnold went on to break multiple school records on the football field.
1. What do Brett Favre and Sam Darnold have in common?
Week one of the 2018 NFL season was almost over. The Jets traveled to Detroit to take on a mediocre Lions’ team. All eye were on Darnold in his first action as a professional. The Jets were eager to get him on the field, so they took the ball first. With 14:53 on the clock in the first quarter, Darnold took his first career snap. He faked a handoff to Bilal Powell, rolled to his right, and threw a pass across the field.
The good news is that the play resulted in a touchdown, the bad news is that it was for Detroit. Quandre Diggs jumped the route and took the interception 37 yards to the house. After that play, the Jets outscored the Lions 48-10 while Darnold went 16-20 for 198 yards and two touchdowns after the pick.
This was a typical way to start a career for someone who is playing quarterback for the Jets. On the bright side, Darnold will not be linked to Brett Favre forever. Favre’s first career pass back in 1991 was also a pick six. He and Jameis Winston were the only two to accomplish that feat since 1991 until Darnold joined the exclusive list. If Darnold turns out to be half of what Favre was, Jets’ fans will rejoice.