When USC quarterback Sam Darnold attends summer football camps, he is used to everyone watching him throw passes.
But this summer, Darnold delivered more words than passes as a camp counselor. Three years ago, a wider-eyed Darnold would listen to college quarterbacks. Now he shares his college experiences with young boys. And they hang on every word.
“When you open your mouth, all these kids are glued to you,” Darnold said. “You’ve got to be careful about what you do and say. It’s an interesting perspective.”
Darnold enthralled campers this summer, most notably at the Manning Passing Academy, run by Archie, Peyton and Eli Manning. It’s part of his new life as the college football star. That was evident Thursday as Darnold was surrounded by a huge group of reporters at Day 2 of the Pac-12’s media days.
“I’ve prepared my whole life for this, but I never knew it was going to be like this,” Darnold said.
Just two years ago, Darnold arrived at USC so unheralded, he was just handed jersey No. 14 with no thought about it. The former San Clemente High standout wasn’t a big enough name to demand a number like some USC freshmen do every year.
“I just took the number they gave me,” Darnold said. “I never really thought it. It’s not something I really think about. I didn’t care what number I wore.”
Carson Palmer wanted to wear No. 3 so bad he switched to it after his freshman season when it became available.
Darnold simply took what was handed out and now it will be the most popular jersey to wear at a USC game this season.
So in that sense, Darnold remains unchanged despite his newfound fame.
“I think I’ve handled (success) pretty good,” he said.
As USC opens training camp Saturday, Darnold is also prepared to address constant questions about his future after this season. Like everything else, he believes he is prepared.
“It’s interesting to see what people say about me. But it’s not really in my thoughts,” Darnold said….