USC Trojans quarterback Sam Darnold is projected to be a Heisman Trophy favorite this season, and the top pick in the 2018 NFL Draft if he declares.
And he could have been a member of the Arizona Wildcats.
Back in 2013, Darnold’s sophomore year in high school, the Arizona coaching staff brought Darnold and his father to Tucson for a camp.
Sam Darnold doing work at the Arizona Camp today under the watchful eye of QB coach and OC Rod Smith. #OKG #beardown pic.twitter.com/V9boLJ2kuD— Triton Football (@Tritonfootball) June 2, 2013
Arizona was one of the first schools recruiting Darnold, who didn’t start filling up his offer sheet until May of 2014 when he landed offers from Tennessee, Duke, Stanford, Oregon and USC. He then committed to the Trojans just before his senior season.
But at some point during Darnold’s recruitment, a member of Arizona’s coaching staff had an issue with Darnold’s throwing motion, his father, Mike, told Bleacher Report.
“The weird one was Arizona,” says Mike. “They were interested, but one of the coaches—I won’t name him—kept saying he was bothered by Sam’s wrist motion and wouldn’t take him unless he fixed it. We had no idea what he was talking about, but last year Sam beat Arizona [48-14]. His wrist looked pretty good.”
While Arizona was on Darnold’s recruitment early, it’s still hard to believe he would have signed with Arizona even if those comments about his wrist weren’t made, given his extensive offer list.
And even if Darnold had gone to Arizona, he probably wouldn’t have been the same player he is at USC, considering the talent and coaching level there.
But this isn’t the first time Arizona coaches have missed badly on recruits (to be fair, it happens to every school).
Back when Mike Stoops was in Tucson, he had told Cam Newton during his official visit he wanted him to play tight end. He also told former Stanford standout Blake Martinez that he wasn’t Arizona material.
Newton later went on to win the Heisman Trophy and National Championship with Auburn, and was selected No. 1 overall in the 2011 draft by the Carolina Panthers.
Martinez was a member of the First-team All-Pac-12 in 2015 and a fourth round pick by the Green Bay Packers in 2016.