Year of the Quarterback profile: San Clemente’s Sam Darnold (VIDEO)
There aren’t many quarterbacks who saw their stock rise as much as Sam Darnold did during the offseason.
Virtually an unknown, Darnold made enough of an impression during the spring to earn an Elite 11 invite. He competed with the nation’s best earlier this summer in Oregon as part of the competition. Upon his return, Darnold got off a plane, hopped in a car and rode to San Diego for a basketball tournament.
Darnold is impressive on the hardwood as well — as a sophomore, he was named league MVP in basketball.
Strengths: Often the case with many young quarterbacks, Darnold runs the ball very well. The San Clemente signal caller isn’t going to blind anyone with his 40-yard-dash time. But he has the type of speed that translates to games well — in limited time, he averaged over 100 yards per game on the ground last season.
Weaknesses: Experience. A part of the reason Darnold was so unheralded to start the previous offseason is because there wasn’t much tape on him — he hadn’t played much of the position. After a 3-0 start to his junior season, a foot injury ended his campaign … and the Tritons didn’t win another game the rest of that season.
Key stat: 748. Darnold’s career passing yardage in parts of two seasons entering his senior year.
Quotable: "He’s been the best athlete at our high school since his sophomore year," San Clemente head coach Jaime Ortiz.
Final thoughts: At 6-foot-4, 215 pounds, Darnold certainly looks the part of quarterback. He also looks the part of wide receiver and linebacker. Coincidentally enough, he played those positions in addition to quarterback as a sophomore. Ortiz says he was the team’s best wide receiver and best outside linebacker as a sophomore. However, it’s his potential as a quarterback that has Division I coaches giddy. USC was so impressed that, despite having a commitment from St. Bonaventure’s Ricky Town, arguably the top quarterback in the 2015 class, it didn’t stop the Trojans staff from continuing to pursue Darnold. The offseason saw him improve on his already stellar 65.1 percent career accuracy entering this season. The 2014 season will showcase what a healthy Darnold is capable of.