5 things to know about New York Jets No. 3 overall pick Sam Darnold

Sal Maiorana
Democrat and Chronicle
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Sam Darnold is expected to be the first overall pick in the NFL Draft.

In the first round of the NFL Draft Thursday night, the New York Jets selected USC quarterback Sam Darnold at No. 3 overall. Here are five things you should know about Darnold.

1. Sam Darnold wanted to play in the NBA first

When he was a kid, he dreamed of becoming a college basketball star. Growing up in Southern California, he was a huge Lakers and Kobe Bryant fan. “Basketball was my first love,” Darnold told The Ringer. “I loved it just because it was so fast. Football wasn’t like that.”

2. He's relatively new to the quarterback position

At San Clemente High School, he began his football career as a linebacker and did not become the starting quarterback until his junior season, meaning he’s played only four full-time years at the position — two in high school, two at USC.

3. Sam Darnold saved USC's season and broke Rose Bowl records

He took over as USC’s starting quarterback in the fourth game of his redshirt freshman season in 2016, and led USC to nine straight victories, including a memorable 52-49 comeback victory over Penn State in the Rose Bowl. He set career highs for completions (33), attempts (53), yards (453) and TD passes (5) in that game.

4. Darnold passed for more yards in a season than Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart

In 2017, at a school that has had several great quarterbacks through the years, Darnold set USC’s all-time single-season record with 4,143 yards passing. And in 2016, he became the only USC quarterback in history to have five TD passes in back-to-back games.

5. He had his own podcast

In 2017 he hosted his own podcast, along with Pac-12 broadcaster and former QB coach Yogi Roth, titled Season of Sam. In each weekly episode, Darnold shared his experiences playing QB for USC as well as stories from throughout his young life.


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