August 10, 2007

Freshmen wideouts looking to step up

Fall camp is barely a week old and there has already been a quiet buzz building about one of the new incoming freshmen. Many fans would first think about someone like Eugene Clifford, Cameron Heyward or Brandon Saine, but they would be wrong. Toledo (Ohio) wide receiver Dane Sanzenbacher has been turning the heads not only of his fellow teammates but of the coaches as well. Not bad for the 5-foot-11, 175-pounder.

"The guy who has really stuck out to me this first week is a rookie actually, Dane Sanzenbacher," sophomore wideout Ray Small said. "His route running is excellent coming in as a receiver. I wasn't anywhere near what I saw from him this week as a route runner when I got here last year."

The humble freshman has taken it all in stride and is just trying to make an impression on his new teammates and coaches. Has Dane found one of the veteran receivers to take him under their wing or has it been pretty much a free-for-all?

"I am just pretty much just trying to pick it up everywhere that I can get it," Sanzenbacher joked. "The guys have been great about it in trying to help the freshmen out and learning all the plays and everything but we will see how the rest of camp goes."

Dane like most of his fellow freshmen has been in Columbus for a couple of months now and had the chance to hit the weights and conditioning program before getting fall camp started. How has the college experience treated the first year player so far?

"It's all been good, been down here since June," Sanzenbacher said. "Camp has been going on for a week and it is nice to finally be able to start playing football instead of just running and lifting and everything."

Have there been many noticeable differences between what Sanzenbacher went through at Toledo Central Catholic high school and what he is now a part of in Columbus?

"It's been a lot faster," Sanzenbacher said. "You can definitely tell the difference between high school and college football but it is something you are going to need to adjust to coming in."

One thing that has been on the minds of most of the players is the heat during the first week of practice. Even though it has been unseasonably warm the first year player knows that summer's grip will drive into September and playing on the new FieldTurf will only make things hotter.

"The heat has been bad and it has been humid," Sanzenbacher said. "Especially on the turf it's been really hot but it is something that we are going to have to get used to because the first two games are Noon games on the turf and it is not going to be any cooler then."

Washington impressing as well

All of the kudos have not only gone the way of Sanzenbacher with fellow freshman wideout Taurian Washington getting singled out for a solid effort and showing great separation skills out during route drills. The 6-foot-2, 180-pounder has admitted having a good time so far in practice and is learning more and more every day of practice.

"I'm doing pretty well and am enjoying myself right now," Washington said. "I am getting closer with the guys on the team and things like that. It's about getting better every day in practice."

The Orchard Lake (Mich.) St. Mary's product has the advantage of coming into the program already being tight with a current player. Aaron Gant was a former teammate in high school and the two players already have that bond in place and it has made the transition that much easier for the younger player.

"I talk to Aaron every day," Washington said. "Whenever I get the chance, sometimes we have our separate meetings where I will go with the receivers and he is with the defense. But every time I get the chance I will go and talk to him because he is like my big brother."

Washington agrees with Sanzenbacher that the learning curve is much steeper in college than it was in high school and that the level of intensity around the drills and instruction is considerably higher.

"They are more intense and of course competitive," Washington said. "Every day we work hard and every day in drills there are more skill things in college than there were in high school."

The current weather conditions were on the mind of the young receiver as well but it is not going to let a little heat and humidity get in the way of bettering himself as a player.

"It's been hot," Washington pointed out. "You can't let that be an excuse though, you still have to work hard."

Does the former four star recruit have any personal goals that he would like to accomplish before fall camp ends and game week arrives?

"I want to learn everything I need to know and get on the field," Washington said.

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