By Tom Price Jr.

Manny Sanchez embodies everything that his Fresno State football team represents.

Some would say the former quarterback and safety at Lindsay High School didn't fit in at a Division 1A school and even more would say Fresno State has no business taking on BCS teams like Oklahoma and Washington.

Together the two look to prove the nay sayers wrong with Sanchez slotted to start at outside linebacker for the Bulldogs who open the season with BCS teams Washington and Kansas State.

"Those games are going to set off the season," said the first Lindsay Cardinal to earn a four-year division 1A football scholarship. "If we can win those two games there is no reason we can't go 11-0."

It is Fresno State's belief that they can beat anybody and Sanchez's belief that he can compete with anyone that make the two so special. Fresno State was off the radar three seasons ago when David Carr led the Bulldogs to wins over Wisconsin Colorado and climbed the ladder all the way to No. 8 in the nation. Last season they continued to reach for the stars, traveling to Oklahoma and Tennessee. They lost both games but they got an opportunity to play in front of the largest crowds any Bulldog team has ever seen.

By seasons end they found themselves in the Silicon Valley Classic Bowl game against UCLA. And on a muddy and rainy day the Bulldogs again raised eyebrows with a 17-9 win over the Bruins.

"They were a bunch of pretty boys," said Sanchez who had a fourth quarter interception to seal the deal for the Bulldogs. "They were scared of the mud their coach didn't even have a speck of dirt on him and Hill had mud all over."

As a senior in high school Sanchez caught the eye of Fresno State recruiters with his speed and awareness on the field. But like the team he now plays for was overlooked and just offered an opportunity to walk-on.

"I was confident he could compete on that level," Former Cardinal coach Jeff Munter said. "I drove up to Fresno to show them film of all his strengths."

After red-shirting his freshman year Sanchez proved that Munter was right he was offered a full scholarship before last season and now appears on his way to being a three-year starter for Fresno State.

But Sanchez is still not satisfied he wants to win the Western Athletic Conference this year, a feat the Bulldogs have only accomplished once and the sociology major leaves the door open to playing in the NFL.

"I have to see what opportunities come up and see if I can play at the next level," Sanchez said. "

For now though he is content with proving the doubters wrong and helping make Fresno State into a champion.

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