Sanchez & Perrilloux Shared Path to Stardom By Chris Fetters Northwest Recruiting Expert Date: Jan 13, 2005 The nation's top two quarterbacks, Mark Sanchez and Ryan Perrilloux, are from opposite ends of the country but fast friends travelling a similar path to stardom. SAN ANTONIO - During a break in the action, the West team heads over to the sidelines to grab a banana or an orange or something to drink, or even a place to rest themselves before part two of practice begins. It is a time when offense truly meets defense, where kids can be kids again. Mark Sanchez and Ryan Perrilloux aren't separated by the 1,607 miles between Mission Viejo, Calif., and Reserve, La., on this day. Just Marlon Lucky, a running back from North Hollywood, Calif., and another player divide the top two quarterbacks for the West team, sitting on a sideline bench. The U.S. Army All-American Bowl, held this Saturday in San Antonio, arguably is the only time Scout.com's No. 1 and No. 2 quarterbacks ever will hang out on the same sideline together, let alone don the same jersey. Gone is the black and gold of Perrilloux's Wildcats. The ketchup and mustard of Sanchez' Diablos? Well, those colors are not totally out of the picture yet, as Mission's jerseys look awfully similar to those of USC, Mark's college choice. "They feed off competition," Sanchez said when asked about his decision to stay home and play. "No games, no gimmicks, they were straight and up-front with me. But for today, it's just a bunch of high school kids on a bench, next to a football field, having some laughs. And big defensive tackle DeMarcus Granger starts it off. "Hey Sanchez!" The curly-haired QB peered down past Lucky to the next guy in line. Marcus Shavers joshes that he is thinking of going to USC. The 6-foot-4, 245-pound defensive end from Allen High School in Lucas, Texas, is the unquestioned court jester of the West's defense. Problem is, Shavers is committed to Arkansas. Shavers has Sanchez right where he wants him. "If I go to USC, will you be my roommate?" OK, now it's hard to tell just how far Shavers is willing to go with this proposition, but Sanchez keeps going. "Of course, you can be my roommate!" Perrilloux doesn't hear any of this, and it doesn't really matter. The two quarterbacks joke around and kid each other all the time, and with all due respect to Shavers - Sanchez already has a roommate this week. It's Ryan Perrilloux. This wasn't a random pairing of two superstars destined for greatness. It was something Sanchez asked for after the two roomed in New York during a media blitz for the Ball Park Player of the Year award. Besides Perrilloux and Sanchez, other high school stars who were there include Derrick Williams, Greg Paulus and Jake Christensen. It's a curious pairing, and if you were looking in from the outside you wouldn't see an immediate connection, apart from the fact that they just happen to be the best at their position in America. Perrilloux accounted for 5,006 yards of total offense and a mind-blowing 70 touchdowns in 2004. He also returned two punts for touchdowns and returned an interception for a touchdown. He's a dual-threat in the truest sense of the word, with 37 of his 70 scores coming via the run. All Sanchez did as a senior was lead his Diablos to a 14-0 record and a CIF Division-II championship, despite less-than-gaudy statistics. He is a steadying influence in the locker room and pure poise in the huddle. Doing it their own way - and doing it with a winning touch - that's the Perrilloux-Sanchez way. "We had such a balanced attack, it was hard for teams to scout us," said Sanchez, adding that he hoped that his teammate - Chane "The Train" Moline - might be playing in the 2006 U.S. Army All-American Bowl. There was no balance for East Saint John - it was all Perrilloux, all the time. So when the two first met during the 2004 Elite 11 camp in California, there was Perrilloux, Sanchez, and some distance - as well as hype - between the two. But as they got to know each other during the camp, the walls came crumbling down. Perrilloux remembers that first day at Elite 11. "He (Sanchez) was like a little crazy, silly dude with a lot of hair," he recalled. "We weren't in the same room but we just hung out and played some cards and talked," said Sanchez, noting that there wasn't an instant bond that formed, but a friendship definitely developed during the course of their stay in San Juan Capistrano, so much so that he specifically asked Perrilloux to be his roommate during their press junket to New York. And things just went from there. "It's such a light atmosphere with us. I love the kid," Sanchez said of Perrilloux. "I'm going to be following him forever." Perrilloux talks a little different language, but the meaning is universal. "He was cool," Perrilloux said." But Perrilloux isn't finished. His respect for Sanchez goes way beyond what happens on the gridiron. "Football is not just football and teammates, it's family," Perrilloux said. That's who you play with and that's who will have your back when things aren't going right. If they aren't your family, they aren't your boys." So now we jump ahead. It's time for the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, a time where the top prep football players in the country square off in a clash of blood, sweat and tears that tests the mettle of some of the finest college-bound athletes in the country, Perrilloux and Sanchez being two of those athletes. Day One of practice is complete and Sanchez reflects on what has transpired. "That's probably the fastest I've moved in some time," he said with a bit of a chuckle. Guys like Granger and Shavers flushed the pocket on more than one occasion on Monday, giving the quarterbacks all they could handle. The West coaches want to make sure all the quarterbacks get time behind center. What isn't talked about is who will be named the starter for the game on Saturday. The friendship aside, both are anxious to prove that they can get the job done. "When we are on the field, we are competing. After we finish, we're best of friends again," Perrilloux said. Best of friends? After trying to metaphorically crush each other between the hedges? How is that possible, especially for two players driven to battle as hard as possible no matter who is involved? "I have no idea," Perrilloux said. "I think it might be because we have no egos. We aren't jealous of each others. We both can play. Doesn't matter who starts the game or finishes the game, it's the one who puts on the best performance together." Perrilloux has a lot of motivation to play well Saturday. With Perrilloux verbally committed to Texas, Longhorn Nation will be waiting anxiously to see how the second-coming of Vince Young plays in a pressure-packed environment. "A lot of players have come through this game - Adrian Peterson, Vincent Young - some of the greatest players in college football," he said. Sanchez, his trademark cool in full display, talks about the larger picture, because the game is just a part of the full Bowl experience. "I think it's all about the friendships that will live on in college and in the pros," he said. "There are a lot of guys here that will go a long ways. It will be fun following them and catching up with them down the road. The commitment made during this one short week will last a lifetime. And for his friend Ryan Perrilloux? "Hopefully we'll be at the downtown athletic club in New York together," Sanchez said. "We've got some big dreams." For now, the two are content with using conventional means to keep in touch. "We talk all the time, we have cell phones," said Perrilloux. "It doesn't cost much, I have the nationwide plan."