With kickoff this Saturday, it’s hard to conceal the enthusiasm for what the course will be for the 2008 Buckeyes. One of the more intriguing elements to the 2008 Buckeyes is the issue of the 3rd wide receiver. Ray Small was principally the man at the position in 2007, but has seemingly lost any incumbency advantage given both on the field performance and off the field issues. Luckily, the wide receiver position is apparently starting to take shape.if wide receiver coach Darrell Hazell has anything to say about the issue, Dane Sanzenbacher is, as of now, the third wide receiver behind the Flyin’ Brians. Simply put: the staff, from Jim Tressel at the top to Darrell Hazell at the position, love Sanzo1. Further, they love him for all the reasons that I thought were obvious to anyone who’s followed him at Toledo Central Catholic. The guy is a true competitor with a very high football IQ. He knows his routes; he knows where he needs to be and is efficient in getting there. Combine the fact that he gets off his blocks very well and has improved his top-end speed over the summer (which wasn’t bad to begin with), and he’s very quickly showing how well he can create space for himself. The analogy being kicked around here, apparently, is “Anthony Gonzalez”, reminding observers of Gonzo’s ability to create havoc on a route. AtO noted as such in watching Sanzenbacher make the play of the open scrimmage among the wideouts by burning Donald Washington on a 10yd out-route in the end zone. Hazell can’t stop raving about him, reminding fans not to doubt his abilities, and admitting that right now he’s ahead of Ray Small on the depth chart. It looks like Sanzo might start the season as the third wideout. I know this is from the “I told you so” department of Buckeye news, but Sanzenbacher really is the ultimate “Tressel recruit”, who goes from 3-stars to all-star because of his work ethic, high IQ and ability to be coached.
Second, Sanzenbacher’s hold on the third wide receiver position is not set in stone. This is no fault of Sanzenbacher, just that other wide receivers have had excellent springs and summers, leading the staff to speculate that it will be a season long battle for playing time. Ray Small has improved, but was still leapfrogged by Sanzenbacher. DeVier Posey gets a lot of hype from fans, and Darrell Hazell can definitely see why. However, he’s showing why he is, after all, a first year freshman. I’ve not seen Lamaar Thomas mentioned much in this discussion, and I’m not sure how much the fact that he’s making a transition (exclusive tailback in HS to first time WR) in college is playing into that. Grant Schwartz’ name keeps coming up, but he seems to be special teamer for the moment. I’m not reading too much into it, but Taurian Washington’s name comes up before DeVier Posey’s, but after Ray Small. In Hazell’s view, after Small, there’s a lot of a variability in who would be fifth on the depth chart. Overall, after the Brians, there’s a lot of room for a shift in wide receiver rankings.
Third, apparently our wide receivers… they be fast. A recent Bucket of Bullets drew attention to these 100m times.
- Brandon Saine: 10.3
- Lamaar Thomas: 10.3
- Grant Schwartz: 10.4
- Ray Small: 10.4
- Devier Posey: 10.6
- Taurian Washington: 10.7
Schwing. It’s just a shame that those are Midwestern timed. Meaning: if using a more standard measurement, like an SEC measurement, those are actually off by about 5 seconds. That’s SEC speed, but when you factor in the error in measurement, those times round out to about 15 seconds. Oh well.
On a related note, I know Eleven Warriors mentioned Schwartz’s name and how quickly he’s picked up the transition to offense. With that kind of speed and his bigger frame, I’m now very curious to see him take the field.
Fourth, Brian Robiskie is making progress on his injury, but the staff is reticent to do too much with him in practice. Robo suffered a small shoulder sprain while being tackled about two weeks ago. However, Robiskie is a veteran, so he’s not getting any duller for not going full contact. One of the reasons for the confidence of the staff in Robo to be withheld is Robo’s superior hand-eye coordination. According to Hazell, it’s the best he’s ever seen in any player he’s ever coached. As for the possibility that taking a shot in the opener against the Penguins could lead to an aggravation of the injury? The staff is not too worried.
Fifth, apparently Hartline has made a very nice progress over the summer. Pfef said, from what he’s seen, he’s taken his game to another level and should be a bigger threat in 2008. If Hartline is at “another level” from what he was in 2007, I think that means he’s achieving total enlightenment or is otherwise transcending mortality. After all…
We all fall short of the glory of Brian Hartline.
- Apparently Brian Hartline calls him “Scoot” [↩]