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NFL COMBINE

USC's Mark Sanchez won't be cut off at the pass

Quarterback will throw for scouts at the NFL combine Sunday, bucking a trend established by several elite passers over the last few years.

February 20, 2009|Sam Farmer

INDIANAPOLIS — To throw or not to throw. That no longer is the question.

USC quarterback Mark Sanchez will throw for scouts at the NFL combine Sunday, bucking a trend established by several elite passers over the last few years.

It remains to be seen if Georgia's Matt Stafford will follow suit. The word leading into the combine was he was leaning against throwing here, and instead was waiting for his campus pro day.

Sanchez said last week that he understands the rigid structure of the combine, and that he'll essentially be a number in a pack of prospects, who will get a chance to impress scouts with a few throws then head to the back of the line.

Asked if he'll be able to show his creativity, he said: "I don't know if Indy is going to be the forum to show that. It's so structured and so well planned out, I don't think there's any way to get outside the box there and do too much. But I'll be myself, throw the balls I know I can throw. And anything they ask me to throw I'm sure I'll be fine."

Oh, baby!

Go ahead, call Herman Johnson a big baby. He won't be offended.

You see, the 6-foot-7, 364-pound guard from Louisiana State was a big baby -- one of the biggest born in Louisiana at 15 pounds, 14 ounces.

As the story goes, the doctor proclaimed him a future LSU Tiger the minute he delivered him.

"Oh, yeah, it's true," Johnson said Thursday. "He tells me all the time. I talk to him every two or three weeks. He calls me and my mom. He calls me on my birthday and wishes me well. We have a good relationship."

When Johnson showed up as a college freshman, he weighed 411. He said a nutritionist helped him drop 50 pounds, and, even though he's huge, he feels good about his current weight.

"There's a lot of defensive tackles that are like 350, 360," he said. "I know I've got to lose weight, but you just can't go in there and be real light and not have any kind of strength because these guys are a lot quicker and faster and stronger in the NFL. In college, you have some guys with potential but in the NFL it's a whole other story with the size of a defensive tackle and defensive end."

Making the grade

The good news for Baylor is tackle Jason Smith finished the 2008 spring semester with a 4.0 GPA.

But the school won't be rushing to put his very candid explanation of those grades in any brochures.

"It was actually easy," he said with a shrug. "I showed up at my internship every day, at [a recreation center]. I was an assistant center coordinator, so I actually ran the facility."

Come on, Jason, at least make us think you had to sweat.

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sam.farmer@latimes.com

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