Sam Darnold. Photo: Steve Breazeale
Sam Darnold. Photo: Steve Breazeale

By Steve Breazeale

On Friday, highly sought after San Clemente High School quarterback prospect Sam Darnold announced that he will play football for the University of Southern California.

The decision came just days after Darnold returned home from the Elite 11 Finals and the Opening in Beaverton, Ore.

Darnold narrowed his list down to a final three in the buildup to his announcement. It came down to Duke, Utah and USC. In all, 13 schools offered the dual threat quarterback but it was the history of the program and it’s location that ultimately lured Darnold to Los Angeles.

“I want to stay in Southern California for the rest of my life. I realize that. If you have a degree from USC and stay in So Cal, you have connections like no other,” Darnold said. “It was a pretty easy decision after that. That’s something I looked at and it pushed me to USC. It felt really good.”

Darnold, who grew up a USC fan, said that he had maintained almost constant contact with the Trojan staff, especially offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Clay Helton. Darnold said he and Helton spoke on the phone “just about every other day” and the two visits he took to USC impressed him.

First-year head coach Steve Sarkisian and Helton plan to use a spread offensive attack next season, which Darnold feels suits his skill set.

“That type of offense where I have the ability to pass and run … it is a pass first system and I’m looking forward to it,” Darnold said.

Darnold will not be the only freshman quarterback from Southern California looking to land the starting job when he arrives on campus. St. Bonaventure High School’s Ricky Town has also committed to USC and Darnold looks forward to competing with him when the time comes.

“We’re really good friends. I’m looking forward to building a relationship with him as we continue with our careers,” Darnold said. “That competition is a main thing. I’m looking forward to competing for the job right away.”

At San Clemente, Darnold has appeared under center seven times, including five starts. He has thrown for 748 yards, completing 66 percent of his passes, with zero interceptions. He has thrown seven touchdowns and has rushed for six more. In 72 career carries, Darnold has rushed for 465 yards.

Editor’s Note: This article initially ran stating that Sam Darnold made his decision Thursday, July 17. It was made on Friday, July 18.

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