Yesterday's L.A. Times was all over USC's star quarterback, Mark Sanchez, hailing him as “a role model for many of L.A.'s Latinos.” Sanchez, with cinematic good looks and impeccable gridiron instincts, figures to be the center of attention in his team's national face-off with Penn State at the Rose Bowl New Year's Day. Even after a freshman brush with the law, in 2006, during which Sanchez was charged with sexual assault — a charge later dropped — he has reigned as a charismatic leader on the field.

A Tuesday afternoon story from the Associated Press, however, suggests that the junior-year Sanchez is considerably closer than previously thought to leaving USC and matriculating directly into the National Football League as a pro.

“It's always an option,” Sanchez told AP sports reporter John

Nadel. “I've put myself in position to have options. There are plenty

of factors. I'll worry about it after the game. I've put off the

decision until after the game.”

In other words, if Sanchez has a

great game against Penn State he may drop out of school, one year shy

of graduating. Ditching university may not be such a tragedy for a

budding NFL superstar, but what of the thousands of young male Latino

fans who have followed his exploits over the past three seasons — fans

who may not have the option of being signed to multi-million dollar

contracts, or even of going to college?


early college departure by Sanchez may be seen by teens as proof that

it's no big deal to drop out of any school, especially high school.

Dropping out of school is a decision that has always plagued America's

poor and disadvantaged.  Will it be enough for Sanchez to tell his fans

that he'll get his Communications degree over the summer?

LA Weekly