He may not be the prized free agent fans were hoping for, and he doesn't have the size (5-foot-11, 175 pounds) many experts believe the Bears need, but if Dane Sanzenbacher can make the half the impact with the Bears he made for the Ohio State Buckeyes during his collegiate career, their search for an impact wide receiver may be over.
Sanzenbacher, who was voted the Buckeyes MVP last season, agreed to terms with the Bears on a rookie free-agent contract Tuesday while nineteen others inked deals. After making 27 career starts at Ohio State, where he finished his career with 1,820 receiving yards and 18 touchdowns, he chose the Bears over 24 other NFL teams because he believes he's a perfect fit in offensive coordinator Mike Martz's offensive scheme. It came down to the Bears and the Cleveland Browns. Even though he's from Toledo, Sanzenbacher chose the Bears.
Sanzenbacher is one of the receivers who isn't overly big or fast but always seems to be wide open and making clutch catches.
"Dane has a monster work ethic," said Ohio State strength and conditioning coach Eric Lichter. "You can't distract him from what he wants to accomplish. His work ethic is over the top. He also has some of the best endurance I've ever seen. He's legendary at Ohio State for finishing miles ahead of everybody else in workouts. He may not be a Ferrari who can hit fifth gear but his four-and-a-half gears can go forever. In the fourth quarter it's like he's fresh. He has an amazing ability to recover."
Notre Dame fullback Robert Hughes, who prepped at Hubbard, Mississippi State center J.C. Brignone and Northwestern defensive tackle Corbin Bryant were also signed.
Hughes is intriguing because he was more of a big tailback than a traditional fullback for the Irish. At 5-11, 245, he was effective in short-yardage situations but did not block often and did not play a lot of special teams, which will be critical to his success in the NFL.
Here's the rest of the list of signees:
Kyle Adams, TE, Purdue; Tressor Baptiste, LB Texas A&M; Antareis Bryan, CB, Baylor; Travis Cobb, WR, Arizona; Josh Davis, T, Georgia; Ricky Henry, G, Nebraska; Mike Holmes, CB, Syracuse; Ryan Jones, CB, NW Missouri State, Alex Linnenkohl, C, Oregon State; Jordan Miller, DT, Southern; Deron Minor, LB, McNeese State; Sean Murnane, DT, Central Michigan; Andre Smith, TE, Virginia Tech; Winston Venable, S, Boise State; Anthony Walters, S, Deleware; Jimmy Young, WR, TCU.
Linnenkohl was considered the third best center prospect by "Pro Football Weekly's Draft Guide" and could eventually be a replacement for veteran Olin Kreutz.
Expect more signings later tonight and Wednesday.