Underdog Role Familiar For Sanzenbacher

Former Ohio State wide receiver Dane Sanzenbacher again finds himself with something to prove. After starting his collegiate career as an under-the-radar recruit, the former OSU most valuable player is now hoping to carve out a similar path in the NFL. Step one is the NFL combine.

Dane Sanzenbacher is still surprised he has gotten this far, but he is hoping to prove to NFL coaches that he is not done yet.

The former Ohio State wide receiver is accustomed to being overlooked. A lightly recruited player who was viewed by many as unworthy of a scholarship offer from the Buckeyes, the wide receiver went on to be named a team captain as a senior as well as being voted most valuable player and most inspirational.

Sanzenbacher measured in at 5-11, 182 pounds – not exactly the prototypical size for an NFL wide receiver. Perhaps that was why, as he stood at a podium with the NFL logo on a microphone flag and fiddled with it in disbelief.

"Look at this microphone," he said. "It says NFL on it. It's still weird to me. It's been such a crazy ride and I just want to keep it going in the right direction. Who knows where it goes from here."

As a prep senior, Sanzenbacher was rated the No. 58 wide receiver in the nation by Scout.com. His first catch was for a touchdown in the first game of the 2007 season and he finished his OSU career tied for fifth in career receiving touchdowns (19), ninth in receptions (124) and 10th in receiving yards (1,879).

It is not surprising to the Toledo native, then, that he is being projected as a late-round pick if his name is called at all.

"Even being kind of an underdog in situations, it's made me, I think, more confident because if you continually are put in conversations where you're maybe not supposed to perform well and you're able to overcome that, then what's the difference here?" he said.

"The fact that it all seems somewhat surreal to me doesn't mean I'm intimidated by it. I feel like it's something that I've embraced. I feel like I've been along for the ride so this is just another chapter of it."

Sanzenbacher at least had the benefit of being on the initial list of invites to the combine. A late addition to the Senior Bowl roster, the wideout said most players arrived on a Saturday. He got there on the following Tuesday, saying he was unsure of the reasons but suggesting that other players might have not shown up.

"It's another situation where you've got to be prepared for when opportunities present themselves and then make the most of them," he said.

He led the North team with five catches for 62 yards and feels that performance should help him at the combine.

"Whether it's the reality or not, in my mind I feel like you've played in front of these people before," he said. "They've seen you out on the field and they've seen you in real game situations so this is like, ‘OK, I'll go out there and show you again.' "

When it comes to meeting with teams, Sanzenbacher said he does not feel he has anything to worry about from an off-the-field standpoint.

"I feel like in my situation I embrace this whole process because I'm confident in the interview portion of it too," he said. "I like to be able to sit down and hear what NFL scouts and personnel have to say about the game. I feel like the field portion will be a huge step for me."

After going through medical testing and interviews Friday, Sanzenbacher and the other wide receivers will begin going through drills Sunday. During his meetings with doctors, Sanzenbacher said his injury history was dissected. Included on the list was a pair of concussions as well as arthroscopic surgery on his knee following his freshman season.

With the league harping on cutting down on concussions, the former Buckeye said he is not worried that his past will have any bearing on his NFL potential.

"Nobody is seriously concerned," he said. "It was good for me not to have anything serious for the last two years so I feel like I got a lot of that stuff out of my system freshman and sophomore year. I didn't miss a game junior or senior year. Obviously they're going to ask about the concussions."

Following Sunday's workouts, Sanzenbacher could find himself potentially climbing the draft board. Already projected as a late pick, he could do little to draft his status any further.

Sounds like a perfect situation.

"You feel like you're in a situation where you can only improve," he said. "It's cool. (ESPN analyst) Todd McShay's not going to be over there talking about me, I don't think. It's cool just to be able to focus on what you need to do and try to turn some heads."

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