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2023 NFL Draft Prospect Interview: Steve Sanchez, P, California Lutheran University

Steve Sanchez the big-legged punter from California Lutheran University recently sat down with NFL Draft Diamonds owner Damond Talbot.
  • Name: Steve Sanchez
  • Position: Punter
  • College: California Lutheran University 
  • Height: 5”11
  • Weight: 220 

What makes you a top prospect at your position  in the 2023 NFL Draft

What makes me a top 2023 NFL draft prospect is coming out of a division 3 school as a punter is that I’m a strong left-footed punter that can operate under any weather and environment. I can consistently punt in any direction with a 40+ yard punt with a 4.5+ Of seconds of hang time. 

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At what age were you first interested in the sport of football?

I grew up in a Mexican-American family with my grandfather being a passionate soccer player in his youth and a fan throughout his life. As my grandfather and I have had a close relationship, I took his passion and love for the game of soccer. Since I was 7 years old, I always dedicated to being a soccer player. When I came into high school I noticed some soccer players kicking a football for the football team. Everyone at my high school would go to the football games and football seemed to be an electric atmosphere in my high school. The fans and community showed a big support to the football program. With those observations and seeing that my fellow school peers used their soccer skills to kick a football? I decided to try it out. I started playing football my sophomore year of high school. I just had the raw talent for kicking and punting from the start. I would have the leg and athleticism to kickoff, place kick, and punt at the varsity level. Especially as a punter, I always made outstanding kicks to impress my coaches. That same year I made varsity and became my high school’s starting kicker and punter at the age of 15. 

What is one thing that NFL teams should know about you?

One thing that NFL teams should know about me is that no matter how challenging a task is given to me? I always come through and get the job done. I always have performed what was asked of me at every program I’ve been to. That being academically or athletically. Despite being at multiple programs, I have always adapted and executed every play like it was coordinated by my coaches. 

If you could donate to one cause in the world, what would it be? 

If I could have the opportunity to give to a charity? It would be to the innocent and rightful children and women of Palestine. By giving to the Palestinian relief fund it can help contribute to social work support, financial support, clothing, school supplies, relief items, and vocational school for innocent children, orphans, and women of Palestine. Supportive programs for Palestinian women-headed families that are struggling financially would receive help on increasing their economic ability and financial resources. Which would be giving them a better opportunity to feed and take care of their families. 

What is the best advice you have ever received? 

The best advice I have received is from my mom and dad. My parents have given me their example that they didn’t have the precious opportunity that I have, which is have an education and full support from my family. My parents grew up in country where there weren’t any resources and support to receive an education and a college degree. The advice my parents gave me was, “You have everything that’s needed to succeed. Resources (ability to go to college and receive financial aid to pay for college), talent, character, manners, respect, and most of all support from God and us. There’s no excuse and room for failure.” That advice they’ve given me has always motivated me to go by right and with 100% of my effort because both my parents know me the best. 

Who was your childhood hero? 

My childhood hero’s are my parents. I’m their first child and when they legally came into this country alone without the help of anyone, they both had the blessing to secure a roof under my head, clothing on my back, and bring food to the table. At the time when I was born my parent’s English was very limited, they worked their hardest to be able to adapt into the culture and society of this beautiful country, The United States. With doing so, my dad was able to be promoted at his job. My mom was able to go to school and get her degree in Cosmetology. All for the purpose to provide and support my siblings and I. They both did it through blood, sweat, and tears. They have supported me in every way throughout every milestone I’ve accomplished. Despite the hardships we’ve been through as a family, they have always prioritized teaching me to go by right and most of all by the will of God. I realize that my parents have brought me into a valuable country where it has the precious privilege to have the opportunity to be the people we dream to be in the terms of finance, work, and careers. Other places unfortunately don’t have the resources we have as Americans. My parents gave their blood, sweat, and tears for me to be a born American and live a better life than they did growing up. 

Who is the most underrated teammate in your locker room at your school? 

The most underrated teammate I had I believe is James Boman. This all based on my personal observations. I have plenty of reasons to explain the value of James as a football player. James is the football player that doesn’t do the things he does for credit. He does the things he does to contribute to his own team along with his own growth as a football player. James is a person that is very disciplined, dedicated, and respectful. He shows up to every practice, he’s never late or absent. He never misses a meeting. He never misses a workout and lifting session. He priorities his academic performance. He is liked and respected by all his teammates because he gives character that’s honest, respectful, and polite. On top of that he’s the most hardest worker and honest person in my entire team. He stays after practices to work on his technique and skills to better himself as a football player. On top of that, when he came in as a freshman he wanted to lose weight and build muscle. He was able to accomplish that through hard work. Most of all, he’s a self centered and honest person. He’s a man of pure moral values and with the biggest faith to God. He’s someone I’m proud to call my teammate and most of all my friend. 

What is your biggest pet peeve? 

My biggest pet peeve is negative perception. I’d say when someone is in a negative state of mind over small issues or in a negative perception of life for unreasonable reasons is what makes me annoyed. Ironically I also catch myself doing the same thing, being negative to certain circumstances I find myself in. With that being said, other people wish to be in your shoes. So use positivity to determine living in the present and not in the past or future. Enjoy what’s in front of you. 

Overcoming adversity is what defines character, what was the hardest moment in your life to overcome? 

I have overcame many hard adversities but the hardest adversity I feel comfortable sharing is transferring out of a junior college. Being at a JUCO is not just going to play football and transfer. It’s a challenging journey mentally, physically, and academically as well. I spent 2 1/2 years at Ventura College. It was difficult times because I would compare myself a lot and question if this is what was meant for me. At the time I was fighting to earn my spot at a high ranked power house JUCO with a tough roster. I had to compete versus 6 specialist for my spot. The starting spot was very important to me because that was the first step to be noticed by 4 year college coaches and have the opportunity to get offered a scholarship and transfer out. On top of that academics plays a big role into your recruiting. I had to balance school with football. The thing that made my JUCO career harder was my dad got a heart attack when I was playing my last season at Ventura College. He got a heart attack a couple days before a game I had and at the time I had to keep fighting and competing for my starting job as I wasn’t the only talented punter on the roster. So I stayed alongside my dad and didn’t sleep much at the hospital most of the days I’ve been there. Right after practice I would come to the hospital and stay alongside my dad and stay the night at the hospital in a small chair. I had to be sharp in everything to maintain my starting spot, to be with my dad at his time illness, and my academic work too. It took me blood, sweat, and tears to try to keep all my hopes alive. At some points I would think I wouldn’t be good enough or be noticed to be recruited to a university and transfer out. It was hard to concentrate at multiple problems at once. Regardless, I kept my head and faith with God. With his blessings and will I was able to transfer out of junior college, graduate out of junior college with honors, dean’s list, and All-California Student-Athlete award recipient. I didn’t transfer to where I hoped, a high caliber division one school but I at least made it out to continue playing football and getting an education. My dad eventually got better and back to himself, thanks to God. Overall, I didn’t quit despite having times that seemed impossible or challenging, I kept my composure. My family had high expectations of me and I had to succeed not just for them but for myself to live a better life. 

Tell me something about your school and why it is so special to you? 

The special thing about my school is the community, certain professors, and it’s faculty. I met people here that I’ve made life long relationships with. I’ve met most important people of my life here and I made lifelong friends that I wouldn’t trade for anything. The community at California Lutheran University is what made me feel welcomed and for the first time in my life I could say “I’m proud that I attend this school and what the school has to offer”. On top of that I had certain professors who were the most helpful and caring to me. The professors and faculty that I will mention will be the reason why California Lutheran University is an amazing and special place for undergraduate students. Robert Richards was my first professor here at California Lutheran University. He thought biology, and really has been the only biology class I’ve enjoyed. He’s been a supportive professor with me. He is the most patient, caring, and professional professor I have ever had throughout my undergraduate career. He teaches his subject well because he enjoys and loves what he does. He has helped me be a successful undergraduate student which I will never forget and will always be thankful to him. Nicole Talerico is another professor that teaches her subject well and that has helped me become the successful first generation college graduate in my family. She passionately teaches psychology and respects all her students. She is a caring professor, she would reach out and take her time out of her day to meet with me and talk about ways I can become a better student in her class. Both of these professors supported and educated me to be a college graduate. My guidance counselor Janna Lafferty has been part of the faculty of California Lutheran University that makes California Lutheran University an amazing place. She guided me into my academic success and has supported me tremendously to succeed on my undergraduate career. I couldn’t be more thankful for her support and guidance on my academic career. They contribute their time and effort for the student of California Lutheran University. 

What is your favorite snack food? 

Anything spicy. Growing up I was used to eating spicy snacks. It varies on the type of snack but pretty much anything spicy. 

What is the best part of football? 

Winning is the best part of football. Being the best there is. Along with having your blood, sweat, and tears translate to success in the field and be a difference maker for your team.

 If you could sell yourself in one sentence what would you say? 

Whatever you give me? I will give back and 50% more of what you’ve given me. 

If you could compare your play to one player in the NFL who would it be? 

My style of play would be like Chris Jones. My punts always angle to the sidelines to make the punt returners drift more back to make it harder for a return. In all of my career throughout high school and college, I have never had a punt returner for a touchdown. That’s because I always angle my punts to the sidelines and give far distance and high hang time for my team to get down the field to stop the punt returner from returning the punt. I’m quick with my operations and get the ball out quickly. I’m also tackling punter. If the punt returner has passed everyone on my team, I will give all my effort to stop him and not be scared to make a hit or even if getting hit. 

If you could have dinner with three people dead or alive, who would it be and why? 

The first person would be Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez. He’s been my favorite athlete growing up and he is Mexico’s all-time leading scorer. He is what made me fall in love with the sport of soccer and the determination to be the best. The second person would be with General McArthur. He is a hero to this country and his intelligence is something I admire. The third person would be Joe DeCamillis. I’m a huge LA Rams fan and there’s nothing more than I love, special teams. 

Damond Talbot

NFL Draft Diamonds was created to assist the underdogs playing the sport. We call them diamonds in the rough. My name is Damond Talbot, I have worked extremely hard to help hundreds of small school players over the past several years, and will continue my mission. We have several contributors on this site, and if they contribute their name and contact will be in the piece above. You can email me at nfldraftdiamonds@gmail.com

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