Sanchez is back at practice

As USC resumed workouts for its Rose Bowl game against Penn State, quarterback Mark Sanchez practiced Thursday for the first time since absorbing several tough hits against UCLA nearly two weeks ago.

“A couple throws here and there didn’t feel perfect like I want them to but it’s only day one,” said Sanchez, who sat out two practices last week. “We’ve got plenty of time.”

Time, however, will be in short supply for Sanchez and other draft-eligible players considering turning pro after the Jan. 1 game.

The deadline for declaring for the NFL draft is Jan. 15.


Sanchez, a fourth-year junior, requested an evaluation of his status from the NFL but has yet to receive the results.

“It got lost in the mail,” he joked. “Maybe they’re trying to tell me something.”

Sanchez said he was focused on preparing for the Nittany Lions and, “planning on coming back.”

“That’s what I’m working on right now,” he said.


Sanchez, though, allowed that part of his decision would be based on which other quarterbacks make themselves available for the draft.

“It has to factor in -- you want to know how many guys are coming out,” he said, adding, “I don’t think it’s going to totally make or break my decision.”

Coaching staff remains in flux

Carl Smith, who is expected to rejoin the Trojans as quarterbacks coach, monitored practice from the sideline and will further discuss the specifics of his possible role with Coach Pete Carroll over the next few days.

Smith replaced Steve Sarkisian as quarterbacks coach in 2004 and was the Jacksonville Jaguars’ offensive coordinator in 2005 and 2006.

Meanwhile, Sarkisian continues to juggle his responsibilities as outgoing offensive coordinator with his new job as Washington’s head coach.

“I try to plan my days really well,” said Sarkisian, who was scheduled to recruit for the Huskies Thursday night. “I know what time’s allotted for what and spend my time on whatever’s supposed to be done at that time.”

Sarkisian does not consider his situation a distraction to the Trojans.


“We addressed it in the offensive meeting today,” he said. “I told them, ‘We’ve got one more run and so let’s do it the right way. Let’s prepare really well, practice well and leave no stone unturned so on [Jan. 1] we play to our maximum capability.’ ”

Secondary coach Rocky Seto turned down Sarkisian’s offer to become Washington’s defensive coordinator, but Sarkisian is thought to still be wooing Trojans defensive coordinator Nick Holt, who had initially removed himself from consideration.

Both Sarkisian and Holt declined to comment.

Dennis Slutak, USC’s director of football operations, is mulling an offer to join Sarkisian’s staff.

Williams update

Receiver Damian Williams has not practiced because of a right shoulder separation suffered against UCLA, but he said he would play in the Rose Bowl.

Williams, a third-year sophomore, submitted paperwork to the NFL requesting an evaluation of his possible draft status.

“It was more for information purposes, but you never know,” Williams said. “It’s always good to know where you stand.”


Quick kicks

Carroll is hopeful that all players would be academically eligible for the Rose Bowl. “I don’t know what mysteries will unfold, but right now I’m pretty optimistic,” he said. . . . Justin Mesa, a former football player at Cathedral High who graduated from USC and has worked as an administrative assistant in the football program for three years, will join the staff as a graduate assistant on offense in the spring.