25 Most Exciting: No. 22
By Brandon Castel
COLUMBUS, Ohio — He wasn’t supposed to be on this list. He wasn’t supposed to be on many lists.
When the shrimpy Dane Sanzenbacher stepped on to the Ted Ginn Bus Tour back in 2006 he wasn’t heading to Columbus to become the next great receiver at Ohio State. He was just hoping to do enough to earn a scholarship offer.
Photo by Jim Davidson
He did that and a whole lot more over the last four years. The Buckeyes’ captain and team MVP from a year ago comes in at No. 22 on list of the most exciting players of the Jim Tressel era.
No. 22: WR Dane Sanzenbacher
As a freshman in 2007, Sanzenbacher barely filled out his uniform. He looked too small to play at this level, especially at wide receiver factory like Ohio State. On the field he was surrounded by guys who seemed twice his size. That didn’t account for what was beating in his chest.
Sanzenbacher would take a beating his first two years in Columbus, but he kept getting back up. He seemed to have greats hands, but how would he get open enough to catch the ball?
After making two grabs for 40 yards during Ohio State’s trip to Madison in 2008, Sanzenbacher was knocked out of the game with a concussion. He would miss the next two games as well, but returned in week nine to catch six passes for 82 yards in OSU’s loss to Penn State.
Photo by Dan Harker
It may have been that game, however, when quarterback Terrelle Pryor started to realize that Sanzenbacher was always in the right place at the right time.
He would catch only four more passes as a sophomore, but Ohio State lost both Brian Robiskie and Brian Hartline that off-season. Much like they are in 2011, the Buckeyes were looking for stars to step forward and Dane did just that in week three of the 2009 season.
After catching four passes for 115 yards and a touchdown in the first two weeks of the season, Sanzenbacher exploded for 126 yards and two touchdowns against the University of Toledo. The Toledo native caught a 76-yard touchdown pass down the middle of the Rockets defense and followed it up with a n 18-yard touchdown grab at Cleveland Browns Stadium.
From there, Sanzenbacher would become one of the grittiest and most exciting Buckeyes of the last decade. He made nine catches in the Rose Bowl win over Oregon to set him up for an exciting senior season.
Photo by Jim Davidson
It began with a bang against Marshall in the season-opener. Dane racked up 113 yards and a touchdown on just three catches. Two weeks later he would turn in a career performance with nine catches for 108 yards and four touchdowns in a 73-20 win over Eastern Michigan.
He showed up big in the Wisconsin game, catching six passes for 94 yards in a loss. Three weeks later Sanzenbacher plucked a ball out of the air for a 58-yard touchdown pass after it was tipped near the goal line by teammate DeVier Posey.
The following week he made one of the biggest plays of the year and one that would propel the Buckeyes back into the BCS for the sixth-straight season. Moments after Pryor converted a spectacular 14-yard fourth down play, he found Sanzenbacher for what might have been the catch of the year.
Sanzenbacher made a leaping grab over linebacker Troy Johnson and barely got his left in bounds to set up the game-winning touchdown run by Boom Herron.
Photo by Jim Davidson
His most heroic play of the year, however, may have come in the Sugar Bowl against Arkansas. In his last game as a Buckeye, Sanzenbacher grabbed three passes for 59 yards and a touchdown, but his biggest play was just a matter of being in the right place at the right time yet again.
It looked like Pryor might score the first touchdown of the game, but the ball popped loose at the end of his 34-yard run. It rolled into the end zone where Sanzenbacher dove on the ball to give the Buckeyes a 7-0 lead.
It is plays like that which landed “the Great Dane” at No. 22 on our list of the most exciting Buckeyes of the last decade.
No. 23 Will Allen
No. 24 Cam Heyward
No. 25 Brian Robiske
Post your favorite Dane Sanzenbacher moments below.
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