Scam For Sam?

September 11, 2017 — by

Meet Sam Darnold, one of the most highly rated College quarterbacks in the country. Darnold plays for the USC Trojans in the PAC-12 division and has been tipped to be one of the top picks in the 2018 NFL draft, with some franchises allegedly very interested in the sophomore star. The so-called “Scam for Sam”, where a couple of NFL teams appear to be tanking their seasons in order to get the first pick and select Darnold, has picked up some media attention, but what are College Football fans on social media saying?

Darnold was one of the stars of USC’s 42-12 victory over their PAC-12 rivals Stanford on Saturday night/ Sunday morning (depending on your time zone), passing for 4 touchdowns and only giving up 2 interceptions. With the New York Jets, who are forecast to be one of the worst teams in the NFL this season, losing their season opener on Sunday, all eyes are turning to the top prospects to see just how well they would fit in at the MetLife Stadium. The positivity surrounding Darnold was high after his impressive performance in week 2 of the PAC-12 season:

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Emotional reaction to the star quarterback was also very positive, with love featuring in 21% of tweets and happiness in 33% of tweets. Darnold’s fans saw plenty to be excited about, with some certainly taking it to extremes…

Fans of the Jets might be underwhelmed by their prospects this season, but the opportunity to take a quarterback with the potential of Darnold should excite them, particularly as fans of other franchises seem to want to see him move somewhere less… dysfunctional, so as not to waste his talent:

Anger also registered on the scale, with 35% of tweets expressing their unhappiness with Darnold’s loose play when under pressure (USC fans) or the fact that other college prospects were being overlooked in favour of Darnold (everyone else…!). Here’s the overall emotion donut for Darnold on Saturday night:

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Darnold isn’t the perfect player just yet, particularly when he’s forced from his position in the pocket under pressure from the opposing defense. Dealing with pressure of all kinds is a big part of being the star quarterback at an elite college team, especially with the draft rumours hanging around him. Darnold’s playing style suggests he will make some big plays for USC, but College Football expert Bucky Brooks suggests fans shouldn’t lay into the young quarterback too hard despite two loose intercepted passes:

However, analysts and fans alike acknowledge that for Darnold to take the next step in his career and nail down his position at the top of the draft, he needs to stop making throws like this one when he has to make decisions under pressure:

Opposition fans are always quick to jump on a young quarterback from a rival team and let the world know why their guy is better. With a stacked quarterback class coming through for next year’s draft Darnold isn’t a lock for the top pick and rival fans are quick to point it out whenever he makes a mistake. Lemar Jackson of the Louisville Cardinals had a monster game on Saturday, contributing 6 touchdowns to his side’s victory, meaning that last year’s Heisman Trophy winner was thrown into the Sam Darnold conversation to show just how far Darnold has to go before he can be considered the number one pick:

Some are saying he won’t even make the Heisman Trophy shortlist, which seems a little harsh…

Darnold is an exciting prospect with plenty to prove and mistakes to iron out of his game. If he announces for the 2018 draft then we can expect constant comparisons with the other quarterback prospects from fans and pundits alike. During the College Football season I’ll be profiling one top draft prospect per week, keeping an eye on what is being said about them on social media and how College fans are feeling about their favourite players as we head towards the NFL Draft.

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