The discourse going into the 2018 NFL Draft surrounded Sam Darnold and Baker Mayfield. Experts and talk-show personalities debated who should go No. 1 overall to the Cleveland Browns.
We know the story. The Browns took Mayfield and Darnold went No. 3 to the New York Jets. Darnold, a college football star at the University of Southern California, moved from sunny Los Angeles to New York City.
At the time, the USC quarterback was in a relationship with Claire Kirksey.
Sam Darnold's Ex-Girlfriend Claire Kirksey
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Quarterback Sam Darnold dated Claire Kirksey during his USC career. Kirksey studied hospitality administration at nearby Long Beach State. She's originally from Huntington Beach, California, attended Huntington Beach High School and currently works as a Management Trainee at Enterprise, per her LinkedIn.
Maps and my immense knowledge of stars tell me Los Angeles and New York have a hefty mileage between them. Long distance is difficult by itself, but across the country is an entirely different animal. The two appear to have called it quits when Sam made the move.
Kirksey is happily in a new relationship with former Auburn swimming star Liam McCloskey according to her posts on social media. Sam is enjoying the single life in Charlotte.
Sam Darnold's Football Career
Born to Chris and Michael Darnold in Dana Point, Califorina, Samuel Richard Darnold comes from an athletic family. His mother is a physical education teacher at Shorecliffs Middle School, his father was an offensive lineman in college, his grandfather Dick Hammer played basketball at USC and his older sister Franki played volleyball at the University of Rhode Island.
Darnold was a four-star recruit out of San Clemente High School. He chose the USC Trojans over Colorado State, Duke, Nevada, Northwestern, Oregon and others.
The young college football player assumed the starting job three games into his redshirt freshman season, earning the Pac-12 Offensive Freshman of the Year award and Archie Griffin Award in 2016. In 24 games as starter, he threw for 7,229 yards and 57 touchdowns against 22 interceptions. He led the Trojans to a 52-49 win over Penn State in the 2017 Rose Bowl.
In the NFL, Darnold played under the steady leadership of Adam Gase for the New York Jets. After three seasons in the Big Apple, he was traded to the Carolina Panthers in 2021.
The NFL quarterback has the most versatile weapon in American football and a perennial Most Valuable Player candidate in Christian McCaffrey. Darnold seems more than relieved to be given a fresh start, where he'll face a new crop of NFC opponents like the Arizona Cardinals and Detroit Lions.
Sam Darnold's net worth is growing with each snap he takes. Money in his pocket and a suave hairstyle definitely don't hurt his chances on the dating market.
MORE: Baker Mayfield's Wife Thought He Was a "Punk Football Player" at First
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