2008: The strong-armed, experienced Sanchez, who started 3 times in 2007, has earned the starting quarterback job as a junior in 2008.
2007: Sanchez served as the backup quarterback as a sophomore in 2007, but he ended up starting 3 games (Arizona, Notre Dame and Oregon) for an injured John David Booty and performed well. Overall in 2007 while appearing in 8 games, he completed 69-of-114 passes (60.5%) for 695 yards and 7 touchdowns with 5 interceptions. He also gained 22 yards on 14 carries (1.6 avg.). He sat out the Idaho opener while recuperating from a broken right thumb suffered in 2007 fall practice.
Against Arizona, Sanchez made his first-ever start and completed 19-of-31 passes for 130 yards with a 25-yard TD (the first of his career) and 2 interceptions. He started again at Notre Dame and completed 21-of-38 passes for 235 yards and 4 touchdowns (all career highs) with no interceptions, and won USC's Player of the Game versus Notre Dame Award. He completed 26-of-41 passes for 277 yards with 2 TDs (9 and 14 yards) and 2 interceptions while starting at Oregon. In his other appearances of 2007, he played USC's final 2 series at Nebraska but did not attempt a pass, was 2-of-3 for 23 yards with an interception while playing the final series against Washington State, completed his only pass attempt (a 30-yarder) while playing the final series against Oregon State and played the final series against UCLA but did not attempt a pass. He played 1 late series against Illinois, but did not throw a pass.
2006: Sanchez, who had an impressive showing in 2006 spring practice while John David Booty was sidelined with an injury, was USC's No. 2 quarterback as a redshirt freshman in 2006. Overall in 2006 while appearing late in 6 games, he completed 3-of-7 passes (42.9%) for 63 yards with an interception. He also had 4 carries for minus 5 yards (-1.2 avg.) with a TD. He hit 1-of-2 passes for 19 yards at Arkansas, then he played the entire fourth quarter at Stanford and was 2-of-4 for 44 yards and also ran for a 4-yard TD. His only pass attempt against Oregon was intercepted. He also saw action against Arizona, Notre Dame and Michigan, but did not throw a pass.
2005: Sanchez redshirted as a freshman quarterback in 2005, his first year at USC. He won USC's Service Team Offensive Player of the Year Award.
HIGH SCHOOL: 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, Scout.com All-American first team, 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, Los Angeles Times All-Star, Los Angeles Times All-Orange County Back of the Year, Orange County Register All-Orange County and All-South Coast League Co-Offensive MVP as a senior quarterback at Mission Viejo (Calif.) High. He completed 151-of-245 (61.6%) passes for 2,441 yards with 24 TDs and 4 interceptions in 2004 despite sitting out 8 halves because Mission Viejo was winning handily. Mission Viejo was the CIF Division II champion in 2004.
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. He completed 161-of-211 passes (76.3%) for 2,460 yards with 29 TDs and 7 interceptions, plus he ran for 90 yards and caught a touchdown pass in 2003. In one game in 2003, he was 12-of-12 for 326 yards and 4 scores. Mission Viejo was 27-1 in his career.
He also played basketball and baseball at Mission Viejo. His coach at Mission Viejo was Bob Johnson, the father of former USC and NFL quarterback Rob Johnson.
He spent his freshman and sophomore years at Santa Margarita High in Rancho Santa Margarita (Calif.), where his first varsity pass as a 2002 sophomore went 55 yards for the game-winning touchdown.
PERSONAL: He's a communication major at USC with a B average (3.14 GPA). He made the 2007 Pac-10 All-Academic honorable mention. His brothers--Nick (Yale in 1992-93-94) and Brandon (DePauw in 1997)--played football in college.
MARK SANCHEZ ON: Winning the starting job: "Once you get the nod, your mentality totally changes. It's like a heavyweight fighter-you win the title and that's it, you don't want to look back and you don't want to change. That the way I feel and I'm working to keep the job."
His father being a fireman: "It keeps things in perspective. Football means the world to me. But when people lose their houses and lives in a fire, I realize football is just a game. Those fires are a big deal. That's real lifeI'm so proud of him. I look up to him. I love being able to say, 'My dad's a fireman.'I'm used to him being away fighting fires. Ever since I was a young kid, he was fighting fires and big-time disasters and helping people out. When he's gone, he's gone for the right reason."
WHAT OTHERS SAY: USC head coach Pete Carroll: "Mark has shown he has the ability to be a really big-time quarterback in our system. He has the strongest arm we've had since Carson PalmerHe is a resourceful quarterback, able to take off and move and make some plays with his legsAnd our players really respond to himOnce he was named the starter, he came out more energetic, more demonstrative and took on more of a leadership role, which is what we expected."
Former USC quarterback John David Booty: "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."
USC quarterback Mitch Mustain: "He's smart. He knows what's going on, he knows the offense, he knows what to do and he can execute really well. He's a tremendous athlete."
His father, Nick Sanchez: "There's no doubt Mark has that gunslinger mentality. He wants to come out and make a play. The last thing you want to do is to take that out of him. You don't want to give him a 'gunslinger-otomy.' But it's got to be tempered to a degree. He has to learn when to and when not to."