Sanchez To Enter NFL Draft

Jan. 15, 2009

LOS ANGELES (AP) -Southern California quarterback Mark Sanchez will skip his senior season to enter the NFL draft.

Sanchez and Georgia's Matthew Stafford, another junior coming out early, are considered the top two quarterback prospects in the draft. Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford of Oklahoma decided to return to school.

Sanchez is coming off a spectacular Rose Bowl against Penn State. The fourth-year junior went 28-for-35, setting a Rose Bowl record by completing 80 percent of his passes. He threw for 413 yards and four touchdowns, and also ran for a score in the Trojans' 38-24 victory.

'In the end, after sleepless nights and lots of prayers, I've decided I'll forgo my fifth year and declare for the NFL draft,' Sanchez said Thursday at a campus news conference. 'It is with a heavy heart I am going to leave this university.'

Thursday was the deadline for underclassmen to declare for the NFL draft.

Trojans coach Pete Carroll tried to talk Sanchez into coming back for another year, noting that he started only 16 college games and NFL teams often prefer quarterbacks with more experience.

'Mark is going against the grain and he knows that,' Carroll said. 'And he's OK about that.'

Sanchez started just one full season at USC, leading the Trojans to a 12-1 record and No. 3 national ranking. He started three games the previous year 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 Carroll at USC, joining Heisman Trophy winners Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart along with Booty. All three are playing in the NFL.

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