"He's looking for a place to feel comfortable. He wants to go someplace that really wants him. Some schools seem to be more intent than others. Some recruiters really communicate better than others. Some schools have really expressed a desire to maintain consistent communication He has a lot of different possibilities.
"One of my priorities for him would be academics of course and what a school provides beyond the playing field--the whole college experience. We are taking advantage of all the available resources. He hasn't really been out of Calif much, though. It would be nice if these kids could take their official visits earlier. If that were possible I'd think you'd see that a lot of kids could decide what they wanted to do earlier. But a lot of prospects don't have the chance early to see schools they might like which are far away.
"We plan to see a lot of schools this summer. We could see Texas, Notre Dame, Nebraska, Oregon and Michigan, but we probably won't get to them all. We don't really know yet. He's got offers from all those schools plus Stanford, Arizona, Florida, Duke and Rutgers. They are all showing a lot of interest, especially Michigan lately.
"I just want him to go someplace where he'll be happy. It would be tough to turn your back on USC. They have everything going for them and Mark lives nearby. I have all the respect in the world for coach (Pete) Carroll and the school is ranked high academically too. But UCLA is also recruiting Mark. He gets mail from them all the time and he went to the JR Days at both USC and UCLA.
"He could end up going around the corner, or he could end up across the country. Honestly, no school has any lead for Mark. It would just be whoever he just got off the phone with last and Mark's had calls this month from Buddy Teevens, Mack Brown, Bill Callahan and Carroll. I think (Mike) Stoops, (Lloyd) Carr and (Ron) Zook might have called too. If he had to decide tonight, I don't know what he'd do.
"Bob Johnson (Mission Viejo head coach) deserves a lot of credit for this. He's such a great communicator. I have the utmost respect for him. He can really talk with both the kids and the parents. He's always got time for the kids and he's very intense, but he knows how to lighten things up too. For instance, on Wednesdays after practice during the season, he'll have a chili dog or pie eating contest, or the linemen will have a passing contest.
"That stuff keeps the kids fresh and eager to go. By game 14, they are still smilin'. He generates a tremendous amount of esprit de corps. And he lets his coaches' coach. They have the latitude to do what they do best.
"Bob has close relationships with a lot of colleges and they rely on him for his opinions about quarterbacks. He knows what's best for the kids and is always willing to contact schools with questions the kids might have. He just gives them as much info as they want, then stays out of the decision-making process. I've talked with him a lot about that and he wants these kids to make their own decisions.