Former OSU receiver Dane Sanzenbacher, here pulling in a reception against Illinois, knows he has a tough challenge at the NFL Combine.INDIANAPOLIS — The raw numbers don't favor Dane Sanzenbacher in the NFL Combine. When the pro coaches and scouts line up the best wide receivers in college football, Sanzenbacher won't be the tallest or the biggest.
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That is no news bulletin for the former Central Catholic star who went on to have a brilliant career at Ohio State, where he finished his senior season with a fourth straight Big Ten championship, a second straight BCS bowl win, and the team's MVP award.
Sanzenbacher, who the pros officially measured Friday at 5-foot-11 and 182 pounds, is banking that his on-field workout Sunday, and a treasure trove of intangibles, will close any perceived gap between him and the marquee receivers who are here. He has also been in this circumstance before.
"Even being kind of an underdog in situations, it's made me more confident in this situation," Sanzenbacher said Friday after undergoing a battery of medical tests and interviews.
"If you are continually put in situations where maybe you're not supposed to perform well, and you are able to overcome that, then what's the difference here, I guess."
Sanzenbacher, a former two-time City League player of the year who led Central Catholic to the 2005 state championship, said he expects his Ohio State background and resume to hold significant weight with the NFL.
"A common question teams will ask you is, ‘were you a captain' and I'm proud to say that I was," Sanzenbacher said. "And to this point, I consider that to be one of my greatest athletic accomplishments, being elected captain at Ohio State."
Sanzenbacher said he understands the critical importance of performing well in the series of interviews that take place in the combine. He said every moment matters, something he realized from the start of his Ohio State career.
"When you walk into a place, from the minute you step in the door you start to build your reputation," he said. "I think that's what a lot of guys in college don't realize, that when you come in as a freshman you are just kind of floating around until you get your time to be in a leadership position.
"But most of the time, when that moment arrives, you've already set your reputation, you've already set who you are. I guess taking it seriously from day one [is important]."
The first couple days of the Combine are a lengthy ordeal as the NFL attempts to formulate a complete picture of a player's physical and psychological health through a series of meetings and medical tests. Sanzenbacher suffered a concussion during his sophomore season at Ohio State, but he said he felt that being relatively injury-free over the past two seasons has worked in his favor.
"The concussion thing comes up, but I think it was good for me to not have anything serious in my last two years. I didn't miss a game my junior and senior seasons," he said. "But obviously, they're going to ask about everything. A lot of medical stuff is being done, just getting all of that out of the way. It's part of the process."
Next up for Sanzenbacher and the rest of the wide receivers at the Combine will be today's meeting with the NFL Players Association, and a round of psychological testing. The same group of pro prospects take the field in Lucas Oil Stadium tomorrow for a timed 40-yard dash, broad jump, vertical leap, and other speed, strength, and agility exams.
"I think it carries huge weight for everybody," Sanzenbacher said about the on-field tests. "I feel like the field portion is going to be huge for me, but in my situation, I kind of embrace this whole process. I feel like I'm confident in the interview portion of it, too. I like to sit down and hear what NFL scouts and personnel have to say about the game."
Contact Matt Markey at: email@example.com or 419-724-6510.