Scouting Report: Sam Darnold, QB, USC

6031 | 225 | 4.72E | 2020

Darnold is a prototype passer with adequate height, arm strength and athleticism. He displays exceptional ability to throw on the run, he fits passes into tight windows and possesses the pocket awareness and intermediate quickness to evade pass rushers, sometimes showing uncanny knack for the art of the escape. Ball speed/torque are more than adequate for a very young passer and he still has a smooth, quick release and enough zip to make a variety of throws. Darnold’s most exceptional trait is his touch on intermediate passes and the facility to consistently throw receivers open. USC operated mostly out of the shotgun and pistol formations in 2016, so his ability to take snaps under center remains a question mark and he has only has ten starts to his name, but won nine of them. Grandfather (Dick Hammer) played USC basketball, went to the final four, played Olympic volleyball, served as fireman during the Watts riots and later became the Marlboro Man. Darnold is a gamer that carries himself in a humble manner off the field but truly drives the bus on game day and is going to be selected at the top of the 2018 or the 2019 draft.


2016: Darnold proved to be among the top quarterbacks in the nation as just a redshirt freshman in 2016. His insertion into the starting lineup in the fourth game of 2016 gave the USC offense a spark as the Trojans won the final 9 games of the season. Overall in 2016 while appearing in all 13 games and starting the last 10, he completed 246-of-366 passes (67.2%) for 3,086 yards with 31 TDs and 9 interceptions, plus 62 carries for 250 yards (4.0 avg) with 2 TDs and 3 tackles.

2015: Darnold redshirted in 2015 as the No. 3 quarterback as a first-year freshman. He was USC’s Offensive Service Team Player of the Year.

High School: Orange County Register All-Orange County Offensive Player of the Year as a senior quarterback at San Clemente (Calif.) High as he completed 213-of-314 passes (67.8%) for 2,996 yards with 39 TDs and 8 interceptions and he ran for 785 yards on 125 carries (6.3 avg) with 13 TDs. He set school season records for passing yards, passing TDs, completions and total yards (3,770) in 2014.

Personal: He is a communication major at USC with a B average (3.14 GPA). His father, Mike, played football (guard) at Redlands and his mother, Chris, played volleyball at Long Beach City College. His sister, Franki, played volleyball at Rhode Island (2012-15). His late grandfather, Dick Hammer, played basketball at USC (lettering in 1952 and on the Trojans’ 1954 NCAA Final Four team) and was a member of the USA’s 1964 Olympic volleyball team, then appeared in films, television (including in “Emergency!”) and commercials (including as the Marlboro Man) and also was a captain in the L.A. County Fire Department. His grandmother, Betty Hammer, played volleyball (including training with the U.S. National Team) and softball. His great grandmother, Juanita, was a noted tennis player in Southern California. His uncle, Dan Hammer, played volleyball at Long Beach State (1980-81).