Mark Travis John Sanchez (born November 11, 1986) is an American football quarterback for the New York Jets of the National Football League. He was drafted in the first round of the 2009 NFL Draft as the second quarterback and the fifth overall selection by the New York Jets. He played college football at the University of Southern California. Sanchez is only the fourth rookie quarterback in NFL history to win his first playoff game and the second to win two playoff games in his rookie season.
Sanchez was born in Long Beach, California and is of Mexican American descent. As a high school quarterback at Mission Viejo High School, he was named football player of the year by several major college recruiting services and was considered the top quarterback in the nation coming out of high school in 2005. He chose to attend USC, where he rose to starting quarterback his redshirt junior season. Because of his heritage, Sanchez found himself thrust into the spotlight as a symbol of Mexican-American identity and a role model for children. In his single season as the starting quarterback, Sanchez led the Trojans to a 12–1 season and No. 2 ranking in the Coaches Poll and No. 3 in the AP Poll, while capturing the 2009 Rose Bowl Offensive Most Valuable Player award. After initially showing interest in staying for his final season of eligibility, he became the first USC quarterback since Todd Marinovich after the 1990 season to leave school with remaining eligibility to enter to the NFL Draft, although because of his redshirt season he had accumulated sufficient credits to graduate and left the USC campus with a bachelor's degree in Communications.
Sanchez was well regarded upon his arrival at USC. He did not play during his freshman year, and instead took a redshirt season. During this time he participated as the quarterback of USC's scout team, earning the Trojans' Service Team Offensive Player of the Year Award.