USC QB Sanchez to pass on senior season for NFL
By Ken Peters Associated Press Jan. 15, 2009
LOS ANGELES - Southern California quarterback Mark Sanchez, coming off a spectacular performance in the Rose Bowl, said Thursday that he's passing up his senior year to become available for the NFL draft.
"In the end, after sleepless nights and lots of prayer, I've decided I'll forego my fifth year and declare for the NFL draft," Sanchez said at a campus news conference.
"It is with a heavy heart I am going to leave this university," he said.
In one of the greatest passing performances in Rose Bowl history, the fourth-year junior went 28-for-35, a Rose Bowl record 80 percent completion rate, for 413 yards and four touchdowns and ran for a TD in the Trojans' 38-24 victory over No. 8 Penn State.
He and Georgia's Matthew Stafford, another junior coming out early, are considered the top two quarterback prospects in the draft since Oklahoma's Heisman winning quarterback Sam Bradford has decided to return to school next year.
Sanchez started 16 games during his career at USC, including all 13 this season, when USC went 12-1 and finished No. 3 nationally.
He started three games the previous season when John David Booty was hurt, going 2-1 in those contests.
Sanchez is the fourth in a line of outstanding quarterbacks to play under Pete Carroll at USC, joining Heisman Trophy winners Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart along with John David Booty. All three are playing in the NFL. Palmer was the first overall pick in the 2002 NFL draft and Leinart was the 10th overall pick in the 2005 draft.
The 6-foot-3, 225-pound Sanchez is the only one of the four to leave school early for the pros.
A former high school star in nearby Mission Viejo, Sanchez finished this season with 3,207 passing yards, 34 touchdown throws and 10 interceptions. He passed for 695 yards and seven touchdowns with five interceptions as a sophomore in 2007 and 63 yards and no touchdowns with one interception as a freshman in 2006. He redshirted in 2005.
After the Rose Bowl win over Penn State, many in the crowd of 93,293 chanted "one more year, one more year" to Sanchez.