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Marla Ridenour on Sports

Sanzenbacher embraces underdog role

By Marla Published: February 25, 2011

Ohio State co-captain Dane Sanzenbacher found it a little hard to grasp that he was standing at a podium in Lucas Oil Stadium Friday being interviewed at the NFL Scouting Combine.

But Sanzenbacher, a product of Toledo Central Catholic. was embracing his underdog status. At 5-foot-11 and 182 pounds, he's considered too small by pro standards, even as he caught 55 passes for 948 yards and 11 touchdowns last season. He was voted team MVP and most inspirational player by his teammates.

 Lindy's Sports ''Pro Football Draft'' magazine projected the acrobatic Sanzenbacher as an seventh-round pick and said he has ''limited potential to contribute in the NFL.''

"He has below average speed and is also undersized, a very poor combination as a receiver (and blocker),'' Lindy's wrote. "His high football IQ and good overall awareness could give him a chance to catch on with a team that values smart, tough, consistent receivers.''

Pro Football Weekly's "2011 Draft Guide'' magazine lists him as a sixth- or seventh-rounder and called him ''a smart, tough, nuts-and-bolts slot receiver with a healthy disregard for his body who will catch whatever he gets his hands on. A high-character player who will bring a special-teams mentality and make it difficult to cut him.'' 

Sanzenbacher knows how important his combine workout will be.

"I feel like there's always going to be questions. I may not have as many questions in the interview room, my questions are out on the field, so I'm looking forward to that opportunity,'' he said. "The field portion of it is going to be a huge step for me.''

But Sanzenbacher didn't seem nervous about what lies ahead.

"Look at this microphone, it says NFL on it, it's still weird to me,'' he said. "It's been such a crazy ride and I want to keep it going in the right direction. Who knows where it goes from here.

"The fact that it all seems surreal to me doesn't necessarily mean I'm intimidated by it. It's something I've embraced. I felt like I've been along for the ride and this is just another chapter of it.''

Sanzenbacher, who has 19 career TDs, said he came to Indianapolis with confidence.

"Even being kind of an underdog in situations, it's made me more confident in this situation,'' he said. "If you are continually put in situations where you're not supposed to perform well and you're able to overcome that, what's the difference here?''

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