On the field, Mission Viejo quarterback Mark Sanchez is what could safely be described as a cerebral player. The strong-armed righty has all the physical tools that the great prospects possess, but he's also a student of the game and he's able to dissect the field with a surgeon's precision.
Sanchez and his Mission Viejo teammates have seen a variety of defenses aimed at slowing down the Diablo offense, and Sanchez's ability to make quick and skillful decisions has been a major component in the team's success.
Now, faced with maybe the toughest individual decision of his life, Sanchez finds himself staring down a choice with seemingly no wrong answers. In the very near future, the 6-foot-3, 211-pound blue-chip plans to select one lucky school at which he'll play college football, and a recent unofficial visit to Austin has clouded the picture even more.
Sanchez will choose between Texas, Ohio State, Notre Dame and USC and his recent visits to the three out-of-state schools (with a trip to Southern Cal scheduled for this Tuesday) has formed a bottleneck of sorts as he nears the recruiting finish line.
"Oh man, those visits just made it tougher. Without those visits, I couldn't even bring those schools into the picture without having seen them," said Sanchez. "So I think it made it a lot tougher and it will be tough when we sit down and go over it."
After visiting Ohio State and Notre Dame in mid-June, Sanchez and his father made the trek to Austin last weekend to get a better feel for what The University of Texas had to offer. Just like the two prior trips, the stay on the Forty Acres made a strong impression.
"I talked to the entire coaching staff and it was really exciting. I had a good conversation with Major Applewhite and watched some film with coach (Greg) Davis," Sanchez said. "We were looking at some stuff and it was just a great experience. The facilities were amazing and the campus looked wonderful. It's going to make this whole decision a little tougher."
As for his relationship with the Longhorn coaching staff, a factor that will weigh heavily in his decision, Sanchez gave it high marks as well.
"Coach (Mack) Brown is a really personable man. He was with us the whole time and he's a great guy," he said. "Coach Davis, we had a really good connection. We watched a lot of film together with Major, talked about some concepts and the offense. It was like we were speaking the same language so it was good."
Up next is a one-day stop to the local school, USC, at which Sanchez will try to gauge the Trojans' strengths against those of the three programs that he's already visited.
"We're going to sit down like we have with all the coaches at the other schools and ask them some of the same questions," he said. "Then we'll come back sometime next week and sit down as a family and try to figure this whole thing out."