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7 Things to Know About Sam Darnold

Jets' First-Round QB Has Plenty of Athletes and Even an Iconic Actor in His Background


Sam Darnold's life and times, especially on the football fields at Southern Cal and in the Pac-12, were raked over extensively the past several months to find out all about the young man who would be going high in the 2018 NFL Draft.

But there still may be a few things you don't know about Darnold. Here are seven things we found interesting in researching the Jets' newest first-round pick and the newest addition to their quarterbacks room:

Athletic Family TreeDarnold comes from an extended family of athletes. Mike Darnold, his dad, played college football at Redlands College, and so did Mike's dad. His mother, Chris, is a middle school phys ed teacher who played volleyball at Long Beach City College, as did Sam's older sister, Franki, at the University of Rhode Island. And his mom's family is filled with a whole side of volleyball players.

Hammer TimeChief among them was Darnold's maternal grandfather, Dick Hammer. He played basketball at USC, helping the Trojans reach the 1954 Final Four. After that, he made the U.S. Olympic volleyball team.

Then Hammer left sports for firefighting — he was a captain in the L.A. County Fire Department — and acting. If you're old enough, you might have seen him. He appeared in the first season of the Jack Webb-produced TV show "Emergency!" in 1972 but left midway through that season reportedly because he felt being a real-life firefighter was more rewarding than playing a fictional one. He was also one of the actors who played the role of the Marlboro Man in the Seventies.

The Road to QBAs for Darnold himself, at San Clemente (CA) HS, his first positions as a sophomore football player were WR and LB. He took over at QB/LB as a junior and emerged — as a senior he threw for 39 touchdowns and rushed for 13 more. He also was an all-league MVP for the basketball team as a sophomore and a senior.

Because he was so good at hoops and lost much of his junior football season to a broken foot, he wasn't highly recruited. His first contact with USC came from Trojans DC Justin Wilcox, who wanted to recruit him as an outside linebacker. He politely declined. But in part because his San Clemente coach put together a basketball highlight video, the Trojans ultimately were intrigued enough to offer him a scholarship.

Riding the WaveBeing as athletic as he was and living only 15 minutes from the Pacific, did Darnold find himself adding surfing to his athletic résumé? He didn't surf a lot, but he told the Washington Post last summerhe was never in danger of being mistaken for a Barney.

"We would go to the beach and hang out with the surfers, and I had my friend group that really didn't surf that much, and you know, while they all went and surfed, I'd kind of hang on the shore with all my friends that didn't and play beach volleyball or hang out, throw the football around a little bit, or just go in the water and hang out with them while they surfed. So it was pretty fun,

And he's still friends with the national-champion Shorecliffs Middle surf team members. "Those are the cool kids on campus. They're awesome, too," he aid. "Really great kids, like totally surfer kids."

Best Images of the Jets QB on Draft Night in Dallas

Rodger ThatIt's never completely fair to compare one athlete to another but we love to do it anyway. One QB that some have likened Darnold to is the Packers' Aaron Rodgers.

Former Southern Cal WR JuJu Smith-Schuster, now with the Steelers, was asked who he might compare Darnold's throwing style to: "If you've ever seen Aaron Rodgers throw the ball, it's a fastball. It just goes there. That's what it is."

And Penn State head coach James Franklin said, "In Sam Darnold, you look at the Aaron Rodgerses of the world."

Gutsy PlayerBut the one quote about Darnold that we liked best was spoken by the late, great ABC college football voice Keith Jackson, who said of Sam, "He's got some good in his gizzard. He's got some athletic ability, and those are the kind of guys who can beat you."

Airing It OutIs there any worry that Darnold, who's been described as "shy" by some, will adapt to the East Coast and communicating effectively with Jets reporters and fans? Shouldn't be. For one, he thrived in front of USC reporters in the Los Angeles market. For another, he was, well, a communications major (he told the LA Times in January that he was seven classes short of his degree).

As he told Jets reporters today at the Atlantic Health Training Center, "I'm very confident, but it's more of a quiet confidence."

Darnold also participated in "Season of Sam," billed by USC as a "first-of-its-kind podcast" in which he shared a weekly conversation on the Trojans' recent games, "untold stories of Darnold's life," and insights from him and teammaets regarding "leadership, team building and more."

We suspect Darnold will have no media issues. He might, however, have some choice words about East Coast weather come November and December.




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