5 Things: Jose Sanchez

Stepping into Jose Sanchez’s office is a little like stepping into a dorm room, and he likes it that way. That makes it real for the prospective students he’s recruiting. You’ll find memorabilia from his football days, Harry Potter, cookbooks and Heidelberg. It’s an intentional style designed to make future Student Princes feel comfortable asking him question about his Heidelberg experience. 


After taking a gap year to save money, Jose had his heart set on another OAC school – until his high school football coach, David Latkovic, encouraged him to check out Heidelberg. He had never even heard of Tiffin, Ohio. But he visited with his dad and loved it. “I remember telling my dad, ‘It feels like Hogwarts,’” says Jose. “Heidelberg was completely off my radar, but once it came onto my radar, it never left.” He chose Heidelberg for the personal education he would receive. Today, the 2016 grad shares his experience as an admission counselor for his alma mater.


Jose knows what it’s like to struggle at college. During his first year, he suffered a serious knee injury that ended his football season. He also dealt with his mom being seriously ill. But the biggest moment came when he found out he was going to be a father. “I was 19 and life just changed very quickly,” he says. With grades not where they needed to be, Jose went home “to get myself together.” “Sometimes, you don’t understand what you have until it gets taken away,” he says. While he was away, his coaches kept in close communication. It wasn’t an option not to return to the Berg. He came back more focused, more committed, returned to the football field and got his grades up to a 3.0 – where they stayed, all while working two campus jobs and an internship his senior year.


During Jose’s four years as a running back, the Student Princes won more games than any span in program history under former Head Coach Mike Hallett. That’s something he’s very proud of, along with the fact that one of his best friend, Donteea Dye, made it to the NFL. He credits his coaches and excellent resources such as the Academic Game Plan for keeping him on the path to graduation. “My coaches helped the whole time, and I never gave up,” Jose says. His dad, Jose Sr., played a huge role too. “My dad was my go-to,” he says, adding that the two shared an emotional moment during the football banquet his senior year when he presented his No. 5 jersey to his dad.


Jose is a first-generation college student, but if not for the hard work of his dad, who has worked long hours as a baker since he was 13, he may never have had the motivation for college. Not only do they share a name, they look a lot alike. And now, there’s another one to carry on the family legacy. He’s hoping his son, 7-year-old Kellen Michael, inherits the family work ethic – the same one he learned from his dad. “He’s very self-driven, never complacent,” Jose says of his dad. “I try to be the same way.”


As a creative outlet and stress reliever, Jose loves to draw. The recipients of his artwork are his son and his girlfriend, Morgan Harrigan, Heidelberg’s head women’s basketball coach and a great cook. After all, it’s really about the food. “That’s my hidden passion,” Jose says. His specialty: slow-roasted pork and guacamole. But don’t ask him for his recipes. He doesn’t use them. “I just go off taste. If I have garlic and onions in things, I’m good.” Guac-off, anyone?

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