Central Catholic grad part of Buckeye successWritten by Ryan Fowler | | firstname.lastname@example.org
It was coined the “Game of the Century.”
Never before had Ohio State and Michigan met in the final week of the season ranked first and second in the polls.
The script called for a 3:30 p.m. kickoff at Ohio Stadium on Nov. 18, 2006.
In the stands, a fresh-faced senior from Central Catholic High School was busy soaking in the moment.
“That was my first Ohio State-Michigan game” Dane Sanzenbacher said. “Everything down to the halftime show was better than any other game that year. So it seemed that everybody put a lot more emphasis on it.”
On that day, Irish wide receiver Sanzenbacher was mere months from joining the historic Buckeyes’ program. Two years later, he’s an integral part of Ohio State’s offense as a wide receiver.
“I kind of like being thrown into the fire [as a freshman] because you get to learn a lot faster,” Sanzenbacher said.
Sanzenbacher wasted no time working his way into Buckeye history books. In his freshman debut, Todd Boeckman dropped back to pass from the Youngstown State three-yard line. The quarterback fired a bullet to the back of the end zone, Sanzenbacher snagging the ball out of midair, his sure hands helping him record his first reception and touchdown on the same play.
“That was kind of a whirlwind,” Sanzenbacher said of the touchdown. “That was the first drive. It happened so fast. Before I knew it, I was back on the sidelines. It was a great experience; I’m ready to get another one.”
The rest of his freshman season was quiet, with 11 catches for 86 yards. Now he is nearing the end of his sophomore season, a period where some players slump, but Sanzenbacher is shining. He is making a name for himself on a team full of stars.
“It has come at me fast,” Sanzenbacher said of being two games away from his junior season. “I’m glad I’ve been able to grow as a player and hopefully I can keep it going.”
With his gains in playing time came pain. Sanzenbacher sustained a concussion in the Bucks’ game against Wisconsin.
“Apparently I didn’t see the three guys around me,” Sanzenbacher said. “The next thing I knew the trainers were standing over me.”
After missing the Purdue game, Sanzenbacher’s broke out two weeks later on national television during the Penn State game. The former Central Catholic wide-out became a household name and Terrelle Pryor’s favorite target, catching six balls for 82 yards to lead the team on the night.
“Luckily I was out there and I was able to do my part and Terrelle obviously did his part, but when it comes down to it, it doesn’t really matter what I individually did on that night. We didn’t come out on the upper end.”
Sanzenbacher still remembers the night the top-ranked Buckeyes beat second-ranked Michigan two years ago. Though the Wolverines talent pool has dried up in 2008, he expects a tough fight inside The Horseshoe on Nov. 22.
“They’re a growing team and have gotten a lot better as the season has gone on,” Sanzenbacher said. “Coach Tressel told us they are definitely hungry to win, especially against us.”
Sanzenbacher won’t be the only Toledo native searching for six points on Nov. 22. Whitmer graduate Kevin Koger has earned his way into the Wolverines starting lineup. Sanzenbacher says Northwest Ohio has a tradition of producing college football talent.
With a trip to the National Championship out of the picture, this wide receiver’s focus is on the Wolverines and once again sending the maize back to Ann Arbor beaten and blue.
“These seniors want to go out with a bang,” Sanzenbacher said. “We will still fight to the end.”
Ryan Fowler is the weekend sports anchor for NBC 24 Sports. He can be reached at email@example.com.