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Published: Wednesday, 4/14/2010

Ohio State looks to veterans

BY MATT MARKEY
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

COLUMBUS - There's been a lot of movement in the Ohio State receiving corps since Dane Sanzenbacher arrived about three years ago. Guys went to the NFL, either after graduating or leaving early. Some transferred while discontent or served suspensions for various conduct issues.

Through all of the transitions, Sanzenbacher just kept producing. He has played in 37 games over his first three seasons, caught 69 passes, and gained 931 yards while scoring eight touchdowns.

Now, as the former Toledo Central Catholic standout goes through his final spring football session with the Buckeyes, his role has expanded. As the senior member of the receiver corps, Sanzenbacher is mentor and coach as well as player.

"That's part of spring, turning the page and moving into the preparation for a new season, and as one of the older guys, I've got to be more involved in bringing along some of the younger receivers," Sanzenbacher said yesterday as Ohio State wrapped up practice outside the Woody Hayes Center.

Although Sanzenbacher is aware that he and junior DeVier Posey will likely be the primary targets for quarterback Terrelle Pryor, he said he doesn't approach spring feeling secure in his starting role.

"It's competitive out there, no matter who you are or how much you've played in the past, and I think that's a great thing," he said. "That lights your fire and makes you go hard every play, every drill - knowing that other guys are pushing, too."

Sanzenbacher has been part of the active rotation at receiver since his freshman season in 2007 when he caught a touchdown pass in his first game. His role increased in his sophomore season when Sanzenbacher (5-11, 180) had 21 receptions for 272 yards.

Last season he joined Posey as a starter and had 36 receptions for 570 yards and six touchdowns. He had a 56-yard catch against Southern California and a 76-yarder against Toledo.

Posey led OSU with 60 receptions last season for 828 yards and eight touchdowns. The 6-2, 200-pound Posey also threw a 39-yard touchdown to Sanzenbacher off a reverse in the win over New Mexico State.

"I think we have a similar work ethic, me and Dane," Posey said. "The chemistry has grown as we've gotten older, and now I think the coaches trust us out there a lot more."

After Sanzenbacher and Posey a sweepstakes is underway to fill out the remaining receiving roles.

Duron Carter (6-2, 198) was expected to be the No. 3 receiver, but he is being held out of spring practice while he addresses academic issues. Carter, the son of former OSU great Cris Carter, was suspended in December over academics and missed the Rose Bowl.

One player taking advantage of Carter's absence is senior Grant Schwartz. After redshirting his first year, Schwartz has been relegated primarily to special teams. Schwartz (6-0, 210), whose father Brian played for the Buckeyes from 1976-79 has been very consistent and businesslike this spring.

Also in the mix is senior Taurian Washington (6-1, 181), a Michigan native who was part of two state championship sprint relay teams in high school. He has been used mostly on special teams.

Also pushing for playing time are redshirt freshman James Jackson (5-10, 184), who was the Michigan state 100 meter champion in high school and holds the state record in the indoor 60-meter dash, and redshirt freshman Chris Fields (6-0, 185), who was a three-sport star at Painesville Harvey.

OSU receivers coach Darrell Hazell said he is confident the younger players are making good progress, but the experience of Sanzenbacher and Posey, along with Pryor, will allow the Buckeyes to advance their offense to a new level.

"I think with older players, you can run more things," Hazell said.

Contact Matt Markey at:

mmarkey@theblade.com

or 419-724-6510.



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