Football
    Sam Darnold Named Manning Award Finalist

    Sam Darnold
    Nov. 30, 2016

    USC redshirt freshman quarterback Sam Darnold is among 10 finalists for the Manning Award, presented to the nation's top quarterback.

    The winner will be announced after the bowls in January and will be honored at a ceremony in New Orleans. The Manning Award was created by the Allstate Sugar Bowl in honor of the college football accomplishments of Archie, Peyton and Eli Manning. It is the only quarterback award that takes the candidates’ bowl performances into consideration in its balloting.

    USC's Matt Leinart won the inaugural Manning Award in 2004.

    The other finalists for this year’s Manning Award are J.T. Barrett (Sr., Ohio State); Jake Browning (So., Washington); Luke Falk (Sr., Washington State); Jalen Hurts (Fr., Alabama); Lamar Jackson (So., Louisville); Patrick Mahomes II (Jr., Texas Tech); Baker Mayfield (Sr., Oklahoma); Zach Terrell (Sr., Western Michigan); and Deshaun Watson (Jr., Clemson). Watson won the award in 2015.

    Darnold has completed 68.1% of his passes (213-of-313) in 2016 for 2,633 yards with 26 TDs and just 8 interceptions, and he has run for 230 yards on 57 carries (4.0 avg) with 2 TDs.

    He was the 2016 Pac-12 Freshman Offensive Player of the Year and made All-Pac-12 honorable mention. He also was among 18 semifinalists for the 2016 O’Brien Award.

    His 68.1% completion percentage in 2016 is just shy of Cody Kessler’s USC season mark of 69.7% set in 2014. Darnold is the only USC quarterback in history to have back-to-back 5 passing TD games (Arizona and California in 2016). He has thrown multiple TD passes in 8 straight games, the most by a Trojan since Matt Leinart’s 15 in 2003-04. He currently is sixth nationally in completion percentage (.681), 10th in passing efficiency (161.0) and 17th in passing TDs (26). He is second in the nation in ESPN’s Total Quarterback Rating (86.8), behind only Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield. In his 9 starts, he has thrown 24 touchdowns and just 7 interceptions. Among freshmen quarterbacks, he is first nationally in passing efficiency (161.0), completion percentage (.681), TD passes (26) and yards per attempt (8.4). His 24 TDs in 2016 is a USC freshman season record. His 230 rushing yards in 2016 are the most in a season by a USC quarterback since Reggie Perry’s 254 in 1991. He already is 17th on USC’s career passing list with 213 completions (he also is 19th on Troy’s season passing chart with those 213 completions). His 2,863 yards of total offense in 2016 is 15th on USC’s season list.