where Johnson, who was recognized as a "quarterback guru", having trained professionals like Carson Palmer, was head coach.Under Johnson's tutelage, Mark felt he would have a better opportunity to become a better player.

With Booty still recovering, USC elected to start Sanchez for a second consecutive week against Notre Dame; he made significant improvements, completing 21 of his 38 passes for 235 yards and four touchdowns in a 38–0 victory over Notre Dame.

Sanchez entered spring practice after the 2008 season as the front-runner to take over the starting quarterback position, but faced strong competition from redshirt freshman Aaron Corp and Mitch Mustain, a transfer from Arkansas, where he had been the starting quarterback; Mustain, like Sanchez, was named the top quarterback in the nation upon the conclusion of high school career in 2006.

In the eighth grade, he began to play football and learn the intricacies of the quarterback position, training with his father, Nick.

A well-regarded prospect, Sanchez committed to Southern California following his successful high school career in which he led his team to a championship title during his senior season.

He was selected by the Jets after they traded up with the Cleveland Browns, and was named the starting quarterback prior to the start of the season.

Despite a subpar performance, Sanchez led the Jets to the AFC Championship Game, a losing effort to the Indianapolis Colts, becoming the fourth rookie quarterback in NFL history to win his first playoff game and the second to win two playoff games.

In his second season, Sanchez continued to develop and led the Jets to the playoffs and the team's second consecutive AFC Championship Game where they narrowly lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers, 24–19.

With the win over the New England Patriots the week prior, Sanchez tied four other quarterbacks for the second most post-season road victories by a quarterback in NFL history.

Named the starter in 2008, Sanchez led USC to a 12–1 record and won the Rose Bowl against Penn State for which Sanchez was awarded the Most Valuable Player award for his performance on offense.