It’s hard to believe that when Mohamed Sanu committed to Rutgers back in February 2008, he didn’t generate anywhere near the amount of buzz a top recruit typically would.
He was the first commitment in Greg Schiano’s 2009 recruiting class , which was headlined by nationally-known players like Tom Savage, DeAntwan Williams, and Isaac Holmes.
After posting Freshman All-American type numbers, how could Sanu have fallen through the cracks, both on a national landscape and in the Rutgers football community?
Well, it could be largely due to his ineligibility to play football his senior year of high school (because of his age), but maybe Schiano was at the right place at the right time.
Mohamed Sanu went to South Brunswick High School in New Jersey, only about a fifteen-minute drive from Rutgers’ campus in New Brunswick.
And given the amount of mileage the Schianocopter gets on a week-to-week basis, a short drive after Friday night practice to check the pulse on the local recruiting scene would be a breath of fresh air.
But the biggest breath of fresh air would not be inhaled until almost two years later, when Mohamed Sanu had the football in his hands wearing Scarlet and White.
A high school quarterback recruited to play safety in college, the 6’3” 215-pound Sanu was asked to try-out as a wide receiver in last year’s spring practice.
He didn’t need much time on the practice field to secure the other starting wide receiver spot, surpassing every second, third, fourth, and fifth year player on the depth chart.
After recording 10 receptions and over 100 yards receiving in his first collegiate game, it was clear that Sanu could be really special for this Rutgers team, and the coaches took notice.
As the season wore on, Sanu’s versatility became one of the Scarlet Knights' biggest assets, and opposing teams began inserting Mohamed into their game-plans .
Also the teams primary punt returner, Greg Schiano and his staff developed an offensive package featuring Sanu as a “wildcat” type quarterback.
Given his early success, Schiano knew that the more touches Sanu got, the better chances Rutgers had to win.
To put it simply, Sanu is a freakish athlete with the ability to make a big play every time he touches the ball, regardless of how, why, when, or where.
He possesses the raw talent, physique, and attitude to take over a football game.
And he’s not the type of player that cowers or shies away from contact: He looks for it .
When the 2009 season was all said and done, Sanu was second on the team with 51 receptions for 639 yards and three touchdowns.
As a “wildcat” back, he carried the football 62 times for 346 yards and five touchdowns, netting a healthy 5.6 yards per carry.
And as a quarterback, he was 1-for-7 for 38 yards and a touchdown, just for good measure.
On the season, Sanu had 113 touches for just under 1,000 yards, and eight touchdowns.
Not bad for a frosh.
It goes without saying the Mohamed Sanu had an extremely productive freshman year based on statistics alone, but they don’t really do him much justice.
To get a true understating of his athletic prowess, one must watch the tape .
And since football, like all sports, grades performances based on a “what have you done for me lately” scale, draw your attention to Rutgers bowl victory against UCF.
Thirteen carries, 45 yards, 2 touchdowns.
Four receptions, 97 yards, one touchdown.
In sum, 17 carries, 142 yards, and three touchdowns (excluding punt returns).
Now, the Rutgers coaching staff tinkered all year trying to find the best way to use Mohamed Sanu’s assets, so it may have been difficult for opposing teams to defend what they have never seen before.
Will he have a more defined role in the Scarlet Knights offense next year? Maybe, maybe not.
But keep in mind Sanu has a year of experiencing college defenses under his belt and is only going to be a sophomore next year.
His football IQ will only grow higher, and he will only become a faster and stronger player.
The sky is the limit for Mohamed Sanu, and if he continues to build on the freshman year he had in Piscataway, don’t be surprised if he enters the Heisman conversation before his collegiate career is over.
Photo courtesy of http://media.tcpalm.com/media/img/photos/2009/12/20/20091220-010454-pic-197042926_t607.jpg