Sanzenbacher Where He Needs To Be

Ohio State wideout Dane Sanzenbacher has been the Buckeyes' version of a Timex this year. The sophomore from Toledo's ability to be in the right place at the right time also meant he took a licking but kept on ticking, and as a result Sanzenbacher became a dependable part of the OSU offense.

The reputation of Ohio State wide receiver Dane Sanzenbacher is that he's where he's supposed to be at all times.

That has always been the book on the wideout from his days at Toledo Central Catholic, where he led the Fighting Irish to a state title as a junior, through his early Ohio State career. Though the 5-11, 175-pound receiver was a four-star recruit, he was just the No. 58 receiver in his class and was known as a player who made up for his lacking of elite size or speed with a thorough knowledge of how to play the game.

"Dane Sanzenbacher is a competitor," head coach Jim Tressel said. "He's been there whenever you've needed him and he's always where he's supposed to be."

But that skill has put Sanzenbacher in a number of pickles throughout the year. The sophomore was on the receiving end of some punishing hits that began in the team's opener against Youngstown State and continued through its late-season win against Illinois.

One hit against Illinois – when Dere Hicks leveled him after a 2-yard catch across the middle – just gave Sanzenbacher another bruise, but one he absorbed later was critical to Ohio State's win.

He was in the vicinity of a tipped pass, and Illinois safety Donsay Hardeman took the tipped ball as an opportunity to get in a free shot on the Buckeye wideout. Hardeman was flagged 15 yards for a personal foul that kept alive what would turn into an Ohio State touchdown jaunt.

Afterward, the receiver was left to shake off any possibility that defensive backs have had it in for him all year, starting from the first game when YSU's Lenny Wicks laid him out in the flat.

"No, I don't think so," he said. "I just think that just happens. I highly doubt they're out there looking for me."

It did seem that way at times as Sanzenbacher missed two games this year with a concussion after absorbing a shot from three Wisconsin players after a first-half reception.

But Sanzenbacher ended strong after returning from the injury that had come after he started well with eight catches in the first three games. During his first game back against then-No. 3 Penn State, Sanzenbacher caught a career-high six passes for 82 yards, including a 53-yarder.

"I guess that's just how it worked out," he said after that game. "I wasn't really expecting one thing or the other."

He continued to play well near the end of the season. Against Illinois, he caught his first touchdown pass since his first drive as a Buckeye, hauling in a 20-yard touch pass from Terrelle Pryor.

Against Michigan, he was on the receiving end of one of the biggest plays of the game. Pryor was pressured in the backfield and twice evaded the rush of Michigan players before he heaved the ball downfield to Sanzenbacher, who was well behind the U-M defense. The ball was underthrown but Sanzenbacher came back to make the 35-yard grab while being hit by a Wolverine defender. The play set up Ohio State's fifth touchdown of the game.

For the year, Sanzenbacher finished tied for second on the team with Brian Hartline with 21 receptions. He had 272 yards receiving and the lone touchdown.

"His number doesn't get called a whole lot, but he always responds when it does," receivers coach Darrell Hazell said. "He's been a blessing."

The wideout credited his jump to the third receiver spot this year to what he learned a year ago as a freshman. After catching his touchdown pass against Youngstown State, Sanzenbacher had a solid but unspectacular season. Working primarily as the fourth wideout, he caught 12 passes for 89 yards.

"I think a lot of experience came with last year," he said. "When you're in there as a freshman, you might be unsure of yourself, kind of. It's a new experience going on the road and just learning the whole college thing. I think it definitely helps getting that year under your belt."


Buckeye Sports Top Stories