- The Washington Times - Friday, January 16, 2009

From combined dispatches

Mark Sanchez made his own call.

Coming off a record-setting Rose Bowl, the Southern California quarterback will skip his senior season to enter the NFL Draft - going against the advice of coach Pete Carroll.

Sanchez, a fourth-year junior, announced his plans at a campus news conference Thursday, the deadline for underclassmen to declare for the draft.

The past three stars who played quarterback at USC under Carroll stayed for their senior seasons, and the former NFL coach thought Sanchez should do the same.

Carroll tried to convince Sanchez that another year of college experience would help him in the pro game, but Sanchez said he had carefully weighed all the considerations before deciding to leave.

“It has been my dream since I was just a little kid to play in the NFL and thanks to this great academic institution and football program, I have the opportunity to realize that dream,” said Sanchez, dapperly dressed in a business suit.

FLORIDA: Star receiver Percy Harvin is taking his speed, elusiveness and durability concerns to the NFL.

The junior playmaker said he is leaving school early to turn pro, but Gators linebacker Brandon Spikes will return for his senior season.

Both players announced their intentions hours before the deadline for underclassmen to declare for the draft.

A 5-foot-11, 195-pound dynamo from Virginia Beach, Harvin led the team in receiving and was second in rushing. He caught 40 passes for 644 yards and seven touchdowns, and ran for 660 yards and 10 scores.

CLEMSON: Despite a first-round draft projection and the urging of his mother to turn pro, running back C.J. Spiller showed again why he’s so hard to pin down.

Spiller said he would return to the Tigers for his senior season, putting off the NFL Draft on the final day eligible underclassmen could declare.

GEORGIA: Having lost three key players to the NFL, the Bulldogs got some good news: Safety Reshad Jones is staying another season.

The sophomore has two years of eligibility remaining but seriously considered turning pro. After agonizing over his options the past several days, Jones announced he was returning to the Bulldogs.

Quarterback Matthew Stafford, running back Knowshon Moreno and cornerback Asher Allen had previously announced they would leave Georgia early to enter the draft.

OHIO STATE: Defensive back Donald Washington is the latest Buckeyes player to give up his final year of eligibility for the NFL.

Washington joins tailback Chris “Beanie” Wells and wide receiver Brian Hartline among Ohio State juniors who will make themselves available for the draft in April.

NCAA: Giving in to the young-and-younger movement in college basketball recruiting, the NCAA has decreed that seventh-graders are now officially classified as prospects.

At its two-day convention at the Gaylord National in Oxon Hill, the organization voted to change the definition of a prospect from ninth grade to seventh grade - for men’s basketball only - to nip a trend in which some college coaches were working at private camps and clinics for seventh- and eighth-graders.

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