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Q&A w/ Jets First-Round Pick QB Mark Sanchez

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Southern Cal quarterback Mark Sanchez, selected by the New York Jets after they traded up to get the Cleveland Browns’ No. 5-overall pick, flashed the charisma that will serve him well in New York as he spoke to Sporting News’ Bill Eichenberger and other reporters at Radio City Music Hall on Sunday.

Q: How does it feel to be a Jet?

A: It’s really special. I’m really grateful they thought enough of me to make that trade and make me part of the Jets family. It doesn’t even feel like a team. They are definitely a family. It transcends football. And that’s a lot of what I’m used to at ‘SC.

Q: I know you’ve heard that New York fans can be kind of rough.

A: I heard it (referring to the boos he heard when introduced minutes earlier to the crowd). And that was only the first day.

Q: Have you talked to Jets QB Kellen Clemens, who figures to be your main competition?

A: I talked to him (Saturday). … Kellen and I have the same agent, so I had met him before. I just said, “Hey, man, I just wanted to call out of respect to you and say I’m excited to be on the team.” He said, “That’s a first-class thing to do and you’re a real standup guy.” We’re going to learn a lot from each other, make each other better and make the team better.

Q: When you came to New York last week to do some promotional work, were you confident the Jets would draft you?

A: No, not at all. I didn’t even see them last week. I wanted to. I asked if I could come by the facility. But they said no, said they were in draft preparation mode. So I thought, “Oh no, these guys don’t want me anymore.” I didn’t know what was going on.

Q: So what was your reaction when you got the call Saturday?

A: It’s pretty rare you find a team you really fall in love with during this draft process and you actually get to go there. It almost never happens. I’m very fortunate.

Q: Have you talked to USC coach Pete Carroll? If so, what was his reaction to the draft?

A: He was at my draft party. He’s so excited. He said, “L.A. to New York: Who could have scripted it better?” … They had their spring game yesterday at the Coliseum. There were 25,000 people there, and they had a live draft feed on. … When they announced that the Jets were trading up, coach Carroll called timeout. They showed a picture of me, and the place went nuts. He said it was the biggest draft party you could ever dream of.

Q: Did being a top-five pick change Carroll’s opinion that you had made a mistake in skipping your senior season?

A: That really didn’t mean anything at all. Going No. 5 overall, or No. 1 overall, doesn’t mean you are going to be a successful quarterback. What does is your work ethic, the intangibles, being a leader, being a team guy, mastering that playbook as fast as I can. This doesn’t solve anything. It’s only the beginning.

Q: Do you take confidence from the solid impressions you made with various team officials at NFL Scouting Combine and in private workouts?

A: It wasn’t about proving anything to anybody. It was about me playing like I always have and competing to be one of the best. … I was very competitive, doing all the drills at the Combine.

For me, that wasn’t even a question. Throwing at my pro day, they said, “How many balls do you want to throw?” I said, “Who cares?” You want me to throw 50, is that enough? I ended up throwing 95. … That’s just the way it’s always been for me, being competitive with my two older brothers. So it really showed my personality — that’s what they really started to gravitate toward; that’s what they really liked.


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