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    Hayden Panettiere Dating Mark Sanchez's Best Buddy

    Hayden Panettiere, Mark Sanchez NPG.com

    When paparazzi caught Hayden Panettiere and Mark Sanchez grabbing burgers last week, people assumed the two were dating.

    As we reported, they are not. However, here's a surprise: Panettiere's new boyfriend was right there next to them!

    MORE: So true? So false? Hayden Panettiere and Mark Sanchez a couple?!

    Turns out the actress is dating a ballplayer and he just so happens to be Sanchez's best friend. E! News has learned that the celeb is an item with Scotty McKnight, a rookie on the New York Jets.

    "It's so funny, because Scotty was there. But everyone saw her with Mark and took pics," a source tells E! News.

    Sanchez and McKnight have been best friends since childhood, and that connection is actually how the new couple met.

    "Mark went to a pre-Oscar party in February and brought Scotty along. He was standing there and Hayden approached him and said, 'You look bored' and they got to talking," our source said.

    Even though reports of Panettiere's break-up with boxer Vladimir Klitschko didn't surface until early last month, our source said it's actually been over for a while.

    "She and Vlad had been broken up a while before it became public. I think she just wanted to wait until the buzz for Scream 4 was over."

    Panettiere was even with McKnight when he got drafted by the Jets, and it looks like she's getting in with the family quite well.

    "She was kissing him and stuff, celebrating with all the family," the source said. "His family adores her; she fit in right away. She acts like she's been there since day one."

    Awww!

    The pair are even willing to make the cross-country romance work.

    "She's based out of Los Angeles, so they're already working on plans."

    And as for McKnight, well "he's a doll, just a great guy," the source said. "He worked his ass off and nothing comes easy to him."

    Except perhaps Hayden Panettiere?

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