Dane Sanzenbacher was a captain at Ohio State and had 115 catches for 1,811 yards and 18 touchdowns in his Buckeyes career.
The Blade/Jeremy Wadsworth
COLUMBUS -- In the three or four months since his amateur career ended, Dane Sanzenbacher has been continually educated in the nuances of professional football. As he looks forward to the NFL draft over the next few days, the course is incomplete.
"From the time the Sugar Bowl was over, this all became a business," Ohio State's 2010 MVP said.
"You're part of this team, this big group of coaches and players, in everything you do over your four years, and then it all changes, just overnight. Basically, you're just a guy looking for a job in the business of professional football."
Sanzenbacher is one of 10 Buckeyes who received that baptism by fire into the unique machinations of the pro world. Some of them were poked and probed and tested at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis and then a second time at the pro workout day held at the Woody Hayes Center.
After collecting all of that data and film from four years of games and practices, the NFL's masters of smart retreated to their formerly smoke-filled rooms and deliberated. When the draft starts Thursday night, the business decisions will come in rapid-fire order.
"There are all kinds of projections and mock drafts, and it seems like everybody is an expert on this, but you really don't know what to expect," Sanzenbacher said. "It is really an inexact thing."
Most of the more respected draft gurus expect Sanzenbacher to be drafted in one of the middle to later rounds, or at a minimum be invited to NFL camps as a free agent. The Central Catholic grad has elected to avoid looking at all the highly speculative advance material on the draft and instead focus on his studies and workout regimen.
"Once your career here is over, the responsibility ramps up," he said. "It's on us to take care of ourselves and our responsibilities."
Most NFL draft projections describe Sanzenbacher as "undersized" at 5-11 and 182 pounds, but many add that he has "elite quickness and dependable hands."
That is no great revelation to Buckeyes fans, who watched Sanzenbacher make a number of clutch, acrobatic catches over the last four years as he collected 115 pass receptions for 1,811 yards and 18 touchdowns.
Sanzenbacher is represented by agent Joe Flanagan of the Chicago-based BTI Sports Advisors, which has a gaggle of former Buckeyes on its list of current or former clients -- Nick Mangold,. Jim Cordle, Quinn Pitcock, Bryant Browning, and former OSU coach Fred Pagac.
Although he did not do any individual workouts for NFL teams, Sanzenbacher said he has been contacted by a number of clubs over the last week to confirm phone numbers and where he can be reached this weekend, should that draft call be placed.
"This is pretty much a waiting game now. Obviously, we're looking at getting a call in those mid to late rounds, but the worst case scenario would be to go in as a free agent. I'm not sure how that would work this year, with all of the labor issues going on, but a lot of guys have gone undrafted in the past and then been pretty successful in the league."
Sanzenbacher said he will likely watch the first round of the draft in Columbus Thursday night while completing some school work, and then return home Friday to take in the final two days of the draft surrounded by family and close friends.
The Ohio State player expected to go first in this year's draft is defensive lineman Cameron Heyward, projected as a late first-round choice.
Defensive backs Chimdi Chekwa, Devon Torrence, and Jermale Hines will also be watching the draft with their football futures in mind, as will linebackers Ross Homan and Brian Rolle, and offensive linemen Justin Boren and Browning.
"You don't really have a good idea of what is going to happen in the draft because no one really gives you a lot of specific information," Homan said recently after working out for a number of pro representatives.
"I think you have to stay away from all of the draft projections and that stuff -- it'll just make you crazy. I've just concentrated on the one thing I can control, and that's getting myself in the best shape possible for whatever opportunity comes along."
Contact Matt Markey at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6510.