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Saturday, April 30, 2011
Buddy system: Sanchez, McKnight

By Rich Cimini

No, Mark Sanchez didn't phone the Jets' draft room Saturday and lobby for his close friend, Colorado wide receiver Scotty McKnight. That would've been a no-no, considering players aren't allowed to speak with their teams during the lockout. But know this: Sanchez dropped plenty of hints last season, according to Rex Ryan.

So with their final pick in the draft (seventh round, 227 overall), the Jets chose the undersized, but ultra-productive McKnight. Fittingly, he was with his best friend -- Sanchez -- when the call came from the Jets.

"He's in my house, his whole family is over here," McKnight said in a conference call with reporters. "Our two families are celebrating together and it's a cool experience. It's something that I always hoped would happen, but with how unsure the draft is, I didn't want to get my hopes up. I'm obviously ecstatic right now."

McKnight (5-11, 185) wasn't expected to be drafted, which is amazing when you look at his résumé. He's Colorado's all-time leading receiver, one of only 10 players in NCAA history to catch at least one pass in every college game he played.

McKnight received a boost in exposure from his good buddy. At his Pro Day in March, McKnight caught passes from Sanchez, whose presence on the Colorado campus created a buzz and got McKnight's name into some headlines. Prospects are allowed to have their own personal quarterbacks at on-campus workouts for scouts.

McKnight caught everything at the workout and he ran an impressive 4.49 in the 40. Evidently, that was good enough for the Jets.

"We knew him well," GM Mike Tannenbaum said. "He's a self-made guy, a former walk-on."

McKnight and Sanchez grew up in the Mission Viejo, Calf., area and have been friends since they were eight years old. They never played on the same team, but they developed a chemistry from countless hours of training together, quarterback and receiver.

It's an all-in-the-family kind of deal, right down to the business stuff. McKnight is represented by Mark's older brother, Nick, and David Dunn -- also Mark's agents.

Next week, McKnight will participate in Sanchez's "Jets West" camp in California, along with several other Jets skill-position players. McKnight was planning to go anway even if he hadn't been drafted by the Jets.

"This just means I'll be able to sit in and watch some film and learn the playbook," McKnight said. "I know a bunch of those guys, so it'll be cool to get to know them during a workout."