Seasoned Sanzenbacher Ready For '09 Breakout

With the departures of Brian Robiskie and Brian Hartline, Dane Sanzenbacher is the leading returnee among the wide receivers. The Toledo native added weight in the offseason and should be a leader for the unit. Read on learn more about Sanzenbacher's new role and battle with a spring ankle injury.

If it doesn't feel like wide receiver Dane Sanzenbacher has been at Ohio State long enough to be a veteran, you're not alone. The Toledo native and his position coach agree.

"It's funny to think he's a junior already," OSU receivers coach Darrell Hazell said. "It seemed like he just got here."

Nonetheless, Sanzenbacher is one of the most experienced receivers the Buckeyes have heading into the 2009 season. The junior-to-be caught 21 passes last season for 272 yards and a touchdown, third best on the team in receptions and yards behind Brian Robiskie and Brian Hartline.

"It happened fast," Sanzenbacher said. "All the sudden we lose two great receivers and now I'm the veteran in the room. Now it's my responsibility to know what I'm doing all the time."

That should not be a problem for Sanzenbacher, according to Hazell.

"He's exactly where he needs to be when he needs to be there all the time," Hazell said. "He can play any one of the positions (outside, in the slot and on the weakside) and do it well. He's sneaky fast. He's tough. I really like him."

Sanzenbacher has missed several practices this spring after suffering a high ankle sprain on April 9. The injury occurred when he caught a deep pass from Terrelle Pryor and had a defensive back roll up on him. He did not play in Saturday's jersey scrimmage.

Sanzenbacher said he is hoping to lose his yellow non-contact jersey next week.

"It's very frustrating (not playing), but in the end, being frustrated about it isn't going to make my ankle heal any faster," Sanzenbacher said. "I'll just go through all the rehab I can and hope for the best."

Injuries have been a problem for Sanzenbacher in the past. He left the Wisconsin game last season with a concussion and missed Ohio State's next game against Purdue. Often times he has been on the wrong side of big hits. To make him more effective going over the middle against linebackers, Sanzenbacher has gained weight during the offseason. He weighed in at 175 during the 2008 campaign and is now up to 188.

"We had a meeting in the beginning of the winter," Sanzenbacher said. "We set a target weight in order to put on a few pounds. If you're going to get out linebackers and block them, you can't run around at 170."

According to Hazell, if the season started today - and assuming all of his receivers were healthy - Sanzenbacher would start in the slot, with senior Ray Small outside and sophomore DeVier Posey on the weakside.

Bigger and stronger now, Sanzenbacher said he is ready to help lead a young group of Ohio State receivers this season. In addition to Sanzenbacher, Small and Posey, junior Taurian Washington and sophomore Lamaar Thomas could find playing time in the fall. Incoming freshmen Duron Carter and Chris Fields will add depth.

"You can say what you want, but guys are going to learn by what they see," Sanzenbacher said. "You can't make mistakes. You have that added responsibility on you. I'm ready for it."

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