FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Sam Darnold and Saquon Barkley will be on the same football field for the first time since one of the most memorable games in college football history. And while a Jets-Giants preseason game hardly will rival USC’s stunning 52-49 win over the Nittany Lions in the 2017 Rose Bowl, Darnold said it will be good to see Barkley again in Friday night’s matchup at MetLife Stadium.
“It was awesome to play that game — when I was on the sideline to be able to watch Saquon do his thing and when he was on the sideline to watch me throw it around,” Darnold said after Jets practice Sunday morning. “We’ve shared memories there. Being able to go up against him and watch the same thing is going to be pretty cool.”
Darnold and Barkley were spectacular in the Rose Bowl. Darnold threw five touchdown passes, including two in the fourth quarter to bring USC back from a 49-35 deficit. Barkley also had a spectacular game, rushing for 194 yards and two touchdowns on 25 carries. He also had a receiving touchdown.
Darnold and Barkley got to know one another during the pre-draft process, with both players being connected to the Giants. While much of the pre-draft speculation focused on Barkley being the pick at No. 2 — which turned out to be the case — Darnold certainly was a consideration. He visited the team before the draft but wound up being picked third overall by the Jets, who had moved up from No. 6 in a trade.
“The Giants are a top-tier organization, great people over there,” Darnold said. “I know Saquon loves it. When I visited there, I had nothing but great things to say about them.”
Darnold said he wasn’t sure what was going to happen when the Giants were on the clock.
“I was just waiting for the phone to ring,” he said. “I wasn’t really thinking, ‘Are the Giants going to pick me?’ I didn’t know what was going to happen.”
He said he got to know Barkley “pretty well” during the run-up to the draft. “It was cool being able to hang out with him a little bit,’’ Darnold said. “He’s a great dude. He’s a special athlete and an even better person. It’s cool to play against him and be in the same city, hopefully for a long time.”
Notes & quotes: The Jets had a rare morning practice on Sunday after an afternoon practice on Saturday. It’s something coach Todd Bowles might consider next year . . . Darnold threw a wobbly pass during practice that prompted Bowles to say, “What was that?” Darnold cracked, “A completion.” Robbie Anderson adjusted his route to come back to the ball and make the catch . . . CB Trumaine McBride (hamstring) missed a second straight day of practice, but Bowles isn’t concerned. “He’s fine,’’ he said. “He could play if he had to play, he could practice if he wanted to practice.” . . . Bowles on Terrelle Pryor, who continues to be worked back into the lineup after recovering from offseason ankle surgery: “He’s got great size and he’s a great athlete. He’s still coming around. We haven’t seen him fully yet. When he’s healthy, he has a proven track record. We just got to make sure he’s healthy when we put him out there and let his natural athletic ability take over.” . . . The Jets currently have five tight ends on the roster, and Bowles said it will be one of the toughest positions to narrow down when the roster has to be cut to 53 for the start of the season. “It’s probably the toughest spot evaluating, because all five can play,” he said. “That’s probably going to be one of the toughest decisions we make.”