Sanchez could be top QB in nation

WeAreSC caught up with arguably the top prep passer in the west for the class of 2005, Mission Viejo's Mark Sanchez (6'3, 215 lbs). In this in-depth interview he gives us the latest on his summer plans and how his recruitment is coming along.

WeAreSC- At this time last year you were still a little bit of an unknown, but as the season went on you seemed to grow as a quarterback with every week that passed, and now you're at the point that you're one of the top rated quarterbacks in the nation. Talk about the progression that you've made as a passer in the last year and what a guy like your Head Coach, Bob Johnson, has to do with that.

Sanchez- "Oh man, I don't even know where to start. When I first came things weren't all just lined up for me. We had to do a lot of hard work, right from square one just getting the offense down, and it's such a difference this year in passing league. Just practicing for passing league like we've done in the spring already, we're miles away from where we started last year. It just feels good. You can tell everything is clicking already. The linemen know their blocks, and our entire line is back, everybody who played is back, so that's huge. And just the communication we have, between me and the linemen, we can make the same calls, talk to the receivers, changing plays, audibles, everything. It just feels better. It's obvious, we just look like a seasoned team, and that's exactly what it is. And it went that way with me and the Johnson's as well. Coming from Santa Margarita, I knew a little about some offensive stuff, but these guys opened me up to a brand new world of stuff that I'd never seen before, just things that I never knew existed. I'm so glad because at the next level I'm just going to be eager to learn even more. It's just beginning."

WeAreSC- Judging by your impressive performances in a couple of camps this past spring, it looks like you've even improved quite a bit just from the end of the season to now. Is there anything specific that you've been working on since the season ended.?

Sanchez- "As soon as the season ended we did some basketball stuff, but then right when football started getting going again, it was just recognizing the defense and knowing the defense like a book, and just being able to pick things out. You know, look, this guy's left foot is back, so alright, we're going to try to beat him on the outside. Just stuff like that, little things like that, and I think that's what a lot of this year is going to be."

WeAreSC- Talk about recruiting so far and all of the attention that you've received.

Sanchez- "It's been different. I didn't know it was going to be like this. Coach told me it would get pretty hectic now and for the next couple of months, but I have a strong family in back of me and we're just real excited and trying to take everything in stride. The school's real happy for me and Coach Johnson is real happy for me, and especially with Coach Johnson, having him be like a mentor during this process, it's almost like cheating. I mean the guy knows so much. It's almost like having a book telling you what to do. There's no such thing, but he's probably the closest that there is, and he's just been real unbiased about all of the schools. I mean, I know he likes SC just because Rob went there and things like that, but he's been great about the entire thing, like a walking thesaurus about every school. He's got a word to describe everything, so it's perfect having him around. There's not another place that I'd rather be."

WeAreSC- What schools are you looking at right now?

Sanchez- "SC, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Texas, and Nebraska."

WeAreSC- Do you have offers from all of those schools?

Sanchez- "Everybody but Notre Dame."

WeAreSC- Do you have a leader or two out of the group you named?

Sanchez- "No. At this point it's still pretty up in the air."

WeAreSC- What are you looking for in the school you choose?

Sanchez- "Last year at this time I'd probably say something like jersey color, but after talking with Coach and stuff like that, the number one thing for a quarterback would be the quarterback coach or offensive coordinator. Those are the guys that I'm going to be with all of the time. It's got to be someone that I can go to dinner with, hang out with, watch films, someone who can criticize me, and someone who I can understand and relate with. That's probably the number one thing, even more than a head coach, which seems a little surprising, but when you think about it, I'm not going to be with Coach Carroll who's calling the defense, or Coach Mack Brown who's doing some defensive and offensive stuff, I'm going to be with somebody who's the quarterback guy. That's probably number one. Distance and weather isn't really that big of a deal, and academically, all of the schools that I mentioned are pretty academically sound, and so that was a key factor in deciding on those too."

WeAreSC- Is early playing time a factor that you're considering?

Sanchez- "That's always something that you'd love to see, but its not always something that works out for the best, and you know, I'm not going to college to redshirt but if that's what happens I guess that's what happens. All of the colleges I mentioned, they suited what I liked, to be able to play fairly early."

WeAreSC- How did your interest in USC get started?

Sanchez- "Last year, just with being able to go to the games as one of the recruits, just seeing the atmosphere there and seeing what they're doing with the program. Obviously Coach Carroll. Their last two quarterbacks have just been awesome, Leinart and Carson, and Leinart's coming back so it's going to be good to see how he's going to do again this year. Coach Chow definitely, and just being a Southern California kid, it would be a cardinal sin not to go to UCLA or USC or something like that. So automatically I have that interest in them because they're the closest to me geographically."

WeAreSC- You brought up the importance of the offensive coordinator in your decision. Have you had a chance to talk to Norm Chow?

Sanchez- "Yes, a little bit and it's been awesome. I mean, I know he's a perfectionist and that's the way that you've gotta be at the position. He seems like a great guy and I know he knows his stuff. Especially offensively, he's just a genius. He's doing so well with that program, and how he did with North Carolina State everything, I don't know who else is better out there. He's doing really well."

WeAreSC- Did any Trojan coaches come by your school in the spring?

Sanchez- "Coach Carroll and Coach Orgeron were probably some of the first to step foot on campus as soon as they could."

WeAreSC- What have they told you as far as what your future would hold at USC?

Sanchez- "Just the opportunity and the prestige of the program, geographically that I'd be close to home. It would be very nice to be able to come home on the weekends and see family and see people at the games, and they said that a guy with talent like myself and a coach like Coach Chow would make a perfect combination just the way that Carson and Leinart have done already. They just see me doing really well there, and that they're only going to get better. If all of the coaches just suddenly left, they'd still be good for about three or four more years with the classes that they've received, so it's good to see."

WeAreSC- There's a couple of Mission Viejo alums up at USC right now. Do you ever talk to those guys?

Sanchez- "Drew (Radovich) actually lives down the street. I see him all the time, and I'm always out fundraising for high school stuff and they always help me out. He talks about what a great time he's having and how much fun the Rose Bowl was, and he just talks it up like it's the best thing around. I'm excited to hear that. And then Ryan Powdrell comes down by the weight room and lifts when SC is off, and he asked me what I was thinking about college, so we had a good talk about it."

WeAreSC- What are your plans for the rest of the summer?

Sanchez- "We'd like to take a trip to Ohio State and some of the other schools out there, just to compare something to SC because that's all I've seen so far. Other than that we're pretty much camped out and people heard how well I did at San Diego and then at SC the word got out. That's good, I thought I'd be doing camps all summer but at this point I'm glad that we don't really need to."

WeAreSC- Have you heard anything new on the Elite 11 camp?

Sanchez- "Me and Ryan Perrilloux, from Louisiana, were the first two selected."

WeAreSC- Have you set up any officials yet?

Sanchez- "No, not yet. I don't have any idea yet."

WeAreSC- Do you have any idea on when you want to have your decision made about what school you're going to go to?

Sanchez- "I'd like to wait until signing day but I don't know if that's going to be the case. I know with quarterbacks the trend is to commit early, and not having to worry about it during the season would be nice too. So ideally, maybe a little before the season but I'm not quite sure."


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