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COLUMBUS – Ohio State wide receiver Dane Sanzenbacher watched five of his Buckeyes teammates get picked in the NFL draft, but did not see his name come up. Now, the waiting game continues for the former Central Catholic star.
In a normal year, Sanzenbacher would likely have heard from a number of teams by now and been able to choose a free agent offer from the bunch. But since the NFL and its players are locking horns in a contentious labor conflict, the immediate future is very uncertain. There will be no undrafted free agents signed until the dispute is resolved.
“That’s the sad thing about this whole situation — not being drafted wouldn’t be that big of a deal if the lockout wasn’t in place,” said Greg Dempsey, Sanzenbacher’s coach at Central where the 5-foot-11, 182-pound Sanzenbacher was a two-time City League player of the year.
Sanzenbacher, who more than a few labeled “too small” to play at Ohio State when he signed with the Buckeyes during his senior year at Central Catholic, went from catching a touchdown pass the first time he touched the ball as a freshman to team MVP and first team All-Big Ten as a senior.
“Once this labor mess gets straightened out, I’m confident he’ll be on a roster someplace next season, and as a free agent he might be able to pick the best situation to go into,” Dempsey said. “I know Dane is going to handle it OK, but it’s tough to see real quality players like him get stuck in the middle of this.”
Sanzenbacher, who was not available for comment Saturday night after the final round of the draft ended, had five teammates get drafted, and all of them were part of the Ohio State unit that led the Big Ten in scoring defense, total defense, and pass defense.
Defensive lineman Cameron Heyward, linebackers Brian Rolle and Ross Homan, and defensive backs Chimdi Chekwa and Jermale Hines all were selected by NFL teams in the draft, which lasted seven rounds and went from Thursday through Saturday night.
Heyward (6-5, 288) went to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the first round of the draft as the 31st player chosen overall. Heyward, a pass rush demon whose father played in the NFL, said he was thrilled to be going to the Steelers.
“I’ve always loved the team ... to be somewhere you want to be is an unbelievable feeling,” Heyward told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Chekwa (6-0, 191) went to the Oakland Raiders with the 16th pick of the fourth round, 113th overall in the draft. Chekwa had 42 tackles and three interceptions this season, but his workouts for the pros were limited after a wrist injury he suffered in Ohio State’s Sugar Bowl win over Arkansas required surgery.
Hines (6-1, 219) went to St. Louis with the 27th pick in the fifth round, the 158th choice overall in the draft. Hines had 63 tackles and one interception for the Buckeyes this past season.
Rolle (5-9, 229) went to Philadelphia with the 28th pick in the sixth round as the 193rd overall choice in the draft. Rolle, who led the Buckeyes with 76 tackles this past season, comes with a solid NFL pedigree. His cousin Myron Rolle plays for the Tennessee Titans, his cousin Antrel Rolle is with the New York Giants, and cousin Samari Rolle has played for the Baltimore Ravens.
Fellow OSU linebacker Ross Homan (6-1, 240) was picked 35th in that sixth round, going to Minnesota as the 200th overall choice in the draft. A three-year starter for the Buckeyes, Homan had seven interceptions in his career and led Ohio State in solo tackles in the past two seasons.
Other Buckeyes who are considered NFL prospects but did not get the call during the draft were offensive lineman Bryant Browning, running back Brandon Saine, defensive lineman Dexter Larimore, offensive lineman Justin Boren, and defensive back Devon Torrence.
Michigan saw linebacker Jonas Mouton and offensive lineman Steve Schilling picked in the draft, with both going to the San Diego Chargers.
Mouton (6-1, 239) was chosen by the Chargers in the second round with the 61st overall pick of the draft. He started 34 games in his Michigan career, and compiled 264 tackles, 18 tackles for loss, and four interceptions. He had 117 tackles this past season.
Schilling (6-4, 308) went to San Diego in the sixth round with the 201st overall selection in the seven-round draft. He started 49 of the 50 games in his Michigan career, playing three different positions on the offensive line. A freshman All-American earlier in his career, Schilling won or shared the award as Michigan’s top offensive lineman for the past three seasons.
Contact Matt Markey at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6510.