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Last updated: 05/02/2011 0:58 AM

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Football
Sanzenbacher Snub Shocks Buckeye Nation
By Brandon Castel

In all, there were 28 receivers taken in the 2011 NFL draft.

Dane Sanzenbacher
Photo by Jim Davidson
Dane Sanzenbacher

Surprisingly, Dane Sanzenbacher was not among them.

Ohio State’s leading receiver from a year ago officially joined the ranks of the undrafted when the Houston Texans used the final pick in the draft (254 overall) to select Rice defensive lineman Cheta Ozougwu.

He may have been Mr. Irrelevant to most everyone else, but he was of the utmost importance to former Buckeyes like Sanzenbacher, Justin Boren, Bryant Browning, Devon Torrence and Brandon Saine, all of whom are now in a holding pattern until the players and owners reach some kind of agreement on the upcoming season.

There was some expectation that Boren and Torrence would hear their names before the end of the 7-round draft, but few would have believed 32 teams would have little or no interest in Sanzenbacher after the year he had in 2010.

“Still in shock Dane didn’t get drafted,” OSU linebacker Brian Rolle posted on his personal Twitter account.

Brian Rolle
Photo by Dan Harker
Brian Rolle

Rolle was one of the five Buckeyes who did get drafted over the weekend, going to the Philadelphia Eagles in the sixth round (pick 193 overall). All of the drafted Ohio State players were on the defensive side of the ball, with defensive end Cameron Heyward going in the first round to the Pittsburgh Steelers at pick No. 31 overall.

The next Buckeye to hear his name called wouldn’t be until the fourth round, when the Oakland Raiders snagged cornerback Chimdi Chekwa with the 113th pick in the draft. Safety Jermale Hines followed in the fifth round, where he was selected by the St. Louis Rams with the 158th pick.

Rolle came off the board in the sixth round, as well as fellow OSU linebacker Ross Homan, who went to the Minnesota Vikings at pick 200 overall.

Then there was Sanzenbacher, still on the board when the seventh and final round began. Projected to be a mid-round pick after racking up nearly 1,000 yards and 11 touchdowns as a senior Ohio State, he could not find a single team willing to use one of their picks.

 “I'm salty man. I may be biased but I've seen some great players and Dane is definitely one of the best,” OSU tight end Jake Stoneburner posted on his personal Twitter account.

“He will make it.”

This is hardly the first time Sanzenbacher has had to deal with this type of adversity. Even as a high school recruit out of Toledo Central Catholic, Sanzenbacher was considered too small by many and too slow by others to play major Division I college football.

He received a handful of offers from Mid-American Conference but it looked like the 5-11 Sanzenbacher was destined to stay home and play at either the University of Toledo or Bowling Green. He finally received his first big offer from Iowa, but it wasn’t until he visited Ohio State as a part of the Ted Ginn bus tour that Sanzenbacher realized where he was going to play.

Dane Sanzenbacher
Photo by Jim Davidson
Dane Sanzenbacher

“Once I got the offer from Ohio State, that was pretty much it for me,” Sanzenbacher told the Toledo Blade.

“But I have to credit a lot of people for making that possible. Certainly, I owe coach Ginn and coach (Pete) Pharis a ton. If I'm not on that bus, then I never play a down for Ohio State, and none of the rest of this ever happens.”

It did happen, and the rest of the story is even more inspirational than the beginning. After catching three passes as a freshman in 2007, Sanzenbacher somehow became Ohio State’s No. 3 receiver in 2008 behind Brian Robiskie and Brian Hartline, and ahead of players like Ray Small and DeVier Posey.

He finished third on the team with 272 yards receiving that season and quickly moved into the starting lineup as a junior in 2009. His breakout performance came in week three, when Sanzenbacher caught five passes for 126 yard and two touchdowns in a 38-0 win over Toledo at Cleveland Browns Stadium.

He wouldn’t post another 100-yard receiving game the rest of the season, but finished second on the team with 36 catches for 570 yards and six touchdowns.

It set the stage for Sanzenbacher’s big senior season.

After grabbing three passes for 113 yards and a touchdown in the opener against Marshall, Sanzenbacher went on to lead the Buckeyes with 55 catches for 948 yards and 11 touchdowns. He posted three 100-yard receiving games and caught touchdown passes against Penn State, Michigan and Arkansas.

He also made one of the most unbelievable hustle plays of the year in the Sugar Bowl, falling on a fumble by Terrelle Pryor in the end zone to get the Buckeyes on the scoreboard in the first quarter.

That was Dane.

He was the consummate lead-by-example player, and it was no surprise when the team voted him as Ohio State’s 2010 team MVP. The shocker came when Sanzenbacher was also voted as the team’s “Most Inspirational Senior.”

“Dane making crazy plays in games and in practice,” OSU receiver Chris Fields posted on his personal Twitter account.

“(He) is a successful great Buckeye (and you’re) telling me that no 1 drafted him?”

Despite his small stature, Sanzenbacher would seem to be a perfect fit in the NFL’s new micro-trend towards small, quick receivers with good hands. What started with Wes Welker in New England has expanded across the league with slot receivers like Austin Collie and Anthony Gonzalez in Indianapolis and Jordan Shipley in Cincinnati.

The Patriots have even furthered the cause of undersized, white receivers in the NFL with emergence of 5-10 Julian Edelman and 5-9 Danny Woodhead last season. Sanzenbacher needs to add muscle and he has some history with concussion problems, which probably attributed to his going undrafted, but if those other guys can find a home in the NFL, there is no reason he can’t.

“Whoever gets Dane is gonna be real happy,” OSU cornerback Travis Howard posted on his personal Twitter account.

“He's a great guy with an unbelievable work ethic.”

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