Mark Sanchez # QB
Height: 6-2 Weight: 225 Age: 29
Born: 11/11/1986 Long Beach , CA
Experience: 8th season
High School: Santa Margarita HS [Rancho Santa Margarita, CA]; Mission Viejo HS [CA]
Selected By: New York Jets
Pick (Overall): 5 (5)
Sanchez started just one season at Southern Cal, but etched his name in the school record books alongside Carson Palmer and Matt Leinhart, other blue-chip passers who came into their own during Pete Carroll's tenure as the team's head coach.
The junior hopes that NFL teams will overlook his inexperience and regard him in the same class as other former Trojans quarterbacks.
Sanchez started 16 games and completed 64.27% of his passes at Southern California. His 313 pass completions rank ninth in school history and 3,998 yards in total offense rank 12th. He registered 41 touchdown passes in only 27 games, including at least two scoring tosses in 13 of those contests (including seven games with at least three scores, four with four TDs and one with five). He totaled at least 200 passing yards nine times in 2008.
Sanchez received excellent tutoring as the heralded quarterback at Mission Viejo High School, where his coach was Bob Johnson, the father of former USC and NFL quarterback Rob Johnson. He was named 2004 Parade All-American Player of the Year, Super Prep All-American Player of the Year, EA Sports All-American first-team, Super Prep Elite 50, Prep Star Top 100 Dream Team, Student Sports Top 100, Rivals 100, Prep Star All-American, Tom Lemming All-American and Scout.com All-American first-team as a senior.
Sanchez also added Super Prep All-Farwest, Prep Star All-West, Long Beach Press-Telegram Best in the West first-team, Tacoma News Tribune Western 100, Orange County Register Fab 15 first-team, Gatorade California Player of the Year, Cal-Hi Sports All-State first team, All-CIF Southern Section, All-CIF Division II Co-Offensive Player of the Year and Los Angeles Times All-Star honors. The Los Angeles Times All-Orange County Back of the Year was also named Orange County Register All-Orange County.
The All-South Coast League Co-Offensive MVP completed 151-of-245 (61.6%) passes for 2,441 yards with 24 touchdowns and four interceptions in 2004, despite sitting out the equivalent of four games (eight halves), because Mission Viejo was winning handily on the way to capturing the CIF Division II championship. He would finish his career with a 27-1 record as a starter.
As a junior in 2003, he made the Cal-Hi Sports All-State Underclass second-team, All-CIF Division II, Orange County Register All-Orange County first-team and All-South Coast League first-team. That year, he connected on 161-of-211 passes (76.3%) for 2,460 yards with 29 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He also ran for 90 yards and caught a touchdown pass in 2003. In one game, he was 12-of-12 for 326 yards and four scores.
Sanchez also played basketball and baseball at Mission Viejo. He spent his freshman and sophomore years at Santa Margarita High in Rancho Santa Margarita, where his first varsity pass as a 2002 sophomore went 55 yards for the game-winning touchdown.
Sanchez enrolled at Southern California in 2005, redshirting as a freshman. He won the Service Team Offensive Player of the Year Award. In 2006, he took over starting chores for an injured John David Booty throughout the preseason, but was relegated to six games of reserve action once the schedule began. He was limited to 3-of-7 passes for 63 yards and one interception, but drew praise from Booty, who stated, "Mark is going to have an awesome career at USC. I promise you, Mark is going to do well at USC. Waiting a while to play is not necessarily a bad thing."
Sanchez served as the second-string quarterback in 2007. He appeared in eight games, including replacing an injured Booty in the Arizona, Notre Dame and Oregon clashes. He went on to gain 695 yards with seven touchdowns and five interceptions, completing 69-of-114 attempts (60.53%), proving that he has the high-caliber arm to attract pro interest.
Sanchez worked hard during the 2008 offseason, beating out highly regarded Arkansas transfer Mitch Mustain for the starting job. He suffered a dislocated left knee cap prior to the season opener, affecting his mobility, but proved to be capable of handling the team's high-powered offense.
He was a finalist for the Manning Award (nation's top passer) and semifinalist for both the Davey O'Brien Award and Maxwell Award (nation's top player). He led the Pac-10 Conference in total offense (247.92 yards per game) and passing efficiency (164.64), with 34 touchdown passes ranking second among quarterbacks (Matt Leinart had 38 in 2003) during the Pete Carroll era.
Sanchez generated 3,207 yards with 10 interceptions on 241-of-366 attempts (65.85%), adding three more scores on the ground. Sanchez surprised everyone, including family and his head coach, when he announced that he would forgo his senior season and enter the 2009 NFL Draft. Carroll tried to convince his quarterback that another year of college experience would help him in the pro game, but Sanchez said he had carefully weighed all the considerations before deciding to leave.
Heisman Trophy winners Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart, along with John David Booty, all returned for their final year of eligibility with the Trojans. Palmer was the first overall pick in the 2002 NFL draft and Leinart was selected 10th in 2005. Carroll, who said he considers Sanchez as talented as any of those three, discussed the pros and cons with him. "We've talked at great depth and great length. We've covered this from A to Z ... going until late last night," Carroll said. "We don't see this decision the same. (But) I'm thrilled for Mark. For any of our kids to live the dream and do what they want to do with their football career, this is a great place to do this."