Sam Darnold is an American football star who plays the quarterback position for the New York Jets of the NFL. The talented player was drafted by the Jets during the NFL draft of 2018. He completed his collegiate career with the Trojans football team of the University of Southern California. While he was there, Sam led the Trojans to win the 2017 Rose Bowl Championship. He was the recipient of the Archie Griffin Award for excellent performance in 2016. Read on, as we take you through Sam’s career and all interesting facts about his relationships.
A Look at Sam Darnold’s Career Beginnings in High School and College
The Jets quarterback was born as Samuel Richard Darnold on the 5th day of June 1997 in Capistrano Beach, California. He came from an athletic family; his father was an offensive lineman at the University of Redlands. His sister, Franki is a volleyball player at the University of Rhode Island while his mother is currently a physical education teacher at Shorecliffs Middle School. Sam made his first touch in sports when he started playing basketball at the age of five.
Growing up, he enrolled at San Clemente High School, California where he was lettered in baseball, basketball, and football. As a football player, Sam Darnold first started his career playing both the outside linebacker and wide receiver’s position for his team. Later on, he switched to the quarterback position and was able to finish his career with 39 touchdowns and 3000 yards. Following his commendable skills and amazing performance, he received the South Coast League MVP Award twice. He was equally given a four-star rating by sports illustration websites like Rivals.com and Scout.com.
After setting an impressive record in high school, Sam was recruited by so many top universities including Utah, Oregon, and Duke University. He eventually chose to attend the University of Southern California over others. Joining the Trojans in the 2015 season, Sam didn’t play in that season because he was redshirted that first year. Returning to action the following year, Sam Darnold was placed as a backup quarterback to Max Browne. The duo later formed a formidable offensive line for the Trojans; thus making them unbeatable throughout the 2016 season. At the end of his rookie season, Sam won the Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year Award and his team booked a spot to feature in the 2017 Rose Bowl Championship.
At the Rose Bowl, Sam led his team to triumph over the Penn State University football team with a record of 52–49. The quarterback made 33 passes covering 453 yards and five touchdowns. He was honoured with the Archie Griffin Award for his unparalleled contribution to his team. He was also named to the All American Freshman Team. During the 2017 season, Sam Darnold became people’s favourite for the Heisman trophy; nevertheless, the season didn’t turn out so well for the quarterback as he was plagued by injuries. At the end of the season, Sam Darnold was listed among the top prospects of the 2018 NFL draft.
His NFL Career Profile, Draft and Stats
Joining the 2018 draft, Sam Darnold participated in the NFL combine drills where he put up an impressive performance. He completed the 40-yard dash in 4.85 seconds, 10-yard split in 1.67 seconds, and 3 cone drills in 6.96 seconds. He also measured 6 feet 3 3/8 in height and 221 pounds in weight. His arm length was 31 inches while his hand size was 9 3/8 inches. Sam was projected to be among the top picks in the first round of the draft. During the draft, he was chosen by the New York Jets as the third player overall that year.
The quarterback penned a four-year rookie contract worth $30.25 million in July 2018. The contract includes a signing bonus of $20 million. Sam made his debut while leading the Jets to victory over the Atlanta Falcons in their preseason game on 10th August 2018. He scored a touchdown with 96 passing yards in the game. So far, the quarterback has been a great addition to the Jets team and he has been showcasing high performance in his first professional season. He ended the season with 2,865 passing yards, 17 passing touchdowns, and 15 interceptions.
The 2019 season was no less successful for the young quarterback who was named the AFC Offensive Player of the Week following his brilliant performance that led to the Jets 24–22 win against the Dallas Cowboys. He ended the week with 338 passing yards, two touchdowns, and an interception. His 2019 season finished with 3,024 passing yards, 19 touchdowns, and 13 interceptions and had 33 carries for 62 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns.
Likened to Aaron Rodgers for his exceptional skills, Sam is also praised for his mobility in the pocket, his feel, and also his timing. He also throws receivers open and helps them to find space to beat tight coverage. No wonder why he is named NFL’s youngest opening-day starter since the AFL–NFL merger.
What Is Sam Darnold Relationship Status and Who Is His Girlfriend?
In addition to his amazing football career, Sam Darnold has equally been active off the field. The quarterback has been in a relationship with a lady named Claire Kirksey. The two, according to reports, started dating while at the University of Southern California (USC) and still together as a couple. However, both of them are being very secretive about their relationship. They don’t share any pictures neither do they say a thing about their relationship on their various social media platforms. The last social media post featuring a photo of the two together came in September 2017 when the 6 feet 3 inches tall quarterback made a post that suggested they were at a friend’s wedding ceremony. However, there were reports about the pair being spotted at a concert in 2018.
Claire was born and raised in California, United States. She completed her high school at Huntington Beach High School where she was a part of the Huntington’s softball team. Claire is currently pursuing her bachelor’s degree at California State University.
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According to Kirksey, one of the key qualities that attracted her to Sam is his humility. It even took the handsome introvert a while before he could open up to Kirksey about his feelings for her. Even when he met her parents for the first time, while attending USC, they thought he was scared of them.
Sam Darnold and his girlfriend, Kirksey may not have tied the knot yet but a mere look at the couple would show you they are really meant for each other. On her Instagram profile, Kirksey notes that she lives in Long Beach, California.