Enter San Man: Unsung Receiver Dane Sanzenbacher Emerges as Buckeyes' No. 1

Doug TarnovichContributor IOctober 2, 2009

COLUMBUS, OH - SEPTEMBER 12: Dane Sanzenbacher #12 of the Ohio State Buckeyes carries the ball on a 56-yard run against the USC Trojans during the game at Ohio Stadium on September 12, 2009 in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

The only up-to-date jersey I see as I walk around campus these days is Terrelle Pryor's. That's largely due to the fact that the Ohio State team, has a whole has a lot of up-and-comers that have yet to prove that they are worthy of being marketed.

But one wide receiver has proven himself enough that he deserves to see fans wear his No. 12 on Saturdays.

As the Ohio State offense continues its struggle to find out who they are, junior Dane Sanzenbacher seems to have his identity figured out.

Four games into the college football regular season, fans are still unsure of what to expect from the Buckeye offense. The running game has been inconsistent, Terrelle Pryor has yet to prove that he can become a big-game quarterback, and head coach Jim Tressel has been under fire regarding his play-calling.

Things can click against teams like Toledo and Illinois, but stall against good defenses like USC. Though I'm confident that the Ohio State defense can stifle just about anybody in the nation, I worry about teams like Penn State and Iowa, from an offensive standpoint.

In the midst of a turbulent sea of uncertainty, Sanzenbacher remains a rock. He may not be the fastest or flashiest player, but he's the go-to guy when the Buckeyes need a big play. He runs good routes, has great hands, and is as tough as they come, always willing to sacrifice himself for the good of the team even after suffering a concussion against Wisconsin last year.

He leads the offense with 277 yards receiving and four touchdowns, and is Pryor's favorite target.

What I like most about this guy is his consistency. No matter the opponent, he comes up with big plays on a weekly basis, whether its USC or Toledo. This is particularly comforting as the Buckeye nation battles massive heart attacks while watching the inconsistent performance of their quarterback.

What really kills me, is that nobody saw this guy coming. All the buzz surrounded players like Posey, Boom, Small, Thomas, Berry, and Washington. Ironically, we've yet to see greatness from any of these guys.

Yet, nobody talked about Dane "What's-his-name" in the spring. Most folks couldn't pronounce his name, let alone suspect how he would arise to become one of the best offensive players on this team.

One of the things I love about college football is how some players fly under the proverbial radar. I don't remember Sanzenbacher ever receiving the anticipated hype that such recruits as Terrelle Pryor or Jamaal Berry got, but he has nonetheless, slowly but surely, become "The Man".

I suspect we will see a lot more No. 12 jerseys before the season ends.