June 24, 2024

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Sam Darnold was a standout player during his time at USC, but his transition to the NFL hasn’t lived up to expectations. Now, with the Minnesota Vikings, both Darnold and his new team are hopeful that he can recapture some of the brilliance he displayed as a Trojan.

Darnold officially joined the Vikings on March 12, 2024, as reported by Gridiron Heroics.

New York Jets QB Sam Darnold

During his tenure at USC, Darnold achieved notable success. As a highly touted recruit out of San Clemente High School, he made his mark with the Trojans, earning accolades such as the Pac-12 Offensive Freshman of the Year in 2016 and recognition on the Freshman All-American Team. Notably, Darnold led USC to victory in the 2017 Pac-12 Conference Championship, where he was named the MVP of the game.

One of the highlights of Darnold’s college career was his exceptional performance in the 2017 Rose Bowl against Penn State. In a thrilling matchup, Darnold showcased his talent with 473 total yards of offense, including 453 passing yards—a Rose Bowl record for a single player. Throughout his time at USC, Darnold compiled impressive statistics, amassing 7,229 passing yards and 57 touchdowns in 24 starts, with a notable record of 20-4 in games he started.

In the 2018 NFL Draft, Darnold was selected as the third overall pick by the New York Jets, marking the franchise’s highest quarterback draft pick since Joe Namath in 1965. However, Darnold’s professional career has faced challenges, prompting his move to the Vikings in hopes of reigniting his potential and contributing to his new team’s success.

Sam Darnold’s journey in the NFL has been marked by highs and lows, starting with his stint with the New York Jets. Despite high expectations, Darnold struggled to find consistency and faced challenges throughout his time with the Jets. After three seasons with the team, which included some memorable moments but also significant setbacks, Darnold was traded to the Carolina Panthers in 2021.

His tenure with the Panthers also presented its share of challenges, including injuries and changes in coaching staff. Although Darnold showed promise initially, the Panthers ultimately decided not to renew his contract after the 2022 season, making him a free agent.

In 2023, Darnold joined the San Francisco 49ers as a backup quarterback, where he played behind Brock Purdy. Now, Darnold finds himself with the Minnesota Vikings, signing a one-year deal worth $10 million. Despite uncertainty surrounding his role with the team, Darnold is eager to prove himself and make the most of this opportunity.

Carolina Panthers QB Sam Darnold

However, some analysts are skeptical about Darnold’s prospects as the Vikings’ starting quarterback, especially considering his inconsistent performance and turnover-prone tendencies in previous seasons. With the Vikings potentially eyeing a rookie quarterback in the upcoming draft, Darnold’s future with the team remains uncertain.

Nonetheless, Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell remains optimistic about Darnold’s potential, believing that his best football is yet to come. As the Vikings prepare for the upcoming season and navigate their options in the draft, the decisions they make will undoubtedly shape Darnold’s role with the team.

49ers' QB Sam Darnold at Super Bowl pre-game event

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