So, who is this Mohamed Sanu and why haven’t the Bengals utilized his hidden talent earlier? Let’s begin his story in New Jersey, where he was born, raised, and played college football at Rutgers. Many may not know this, but Sanu started his journey as a quarterback at South Brunswick High School. In his final season as a Viking, Sanu led his team to their first playoff berth in almost 40 years. He then went on to Rutgers University in 2009, where he was used in a different way.
Coach Greg Schiano, now with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, started him as a true freshman at wide receiver. He had a stellar year, posting 51 receptions for 639 yards and 3 touchdowns. Sanu also ran 62 times for 346 yards and 5 touchdowns. That same year, the young receiver then went on to win MVP honors at the 2009 St. Petersburg Bowl. In 2010, he was a consensus preseason All-Big East wide receiver. Then in 2011, Mohamed tied a Big East record with 13 receptions, to only break that record the very next week by catching 16 passes. Sanu went on to break the Big East single-season reception record with 115 receptions for 1,206 yards that year. A record previously held by NFL superstar Larry Fitzgerald.
In his three seasons at Rutgers, Sanu caught 210 passes for a total of 2,263 yards. He scored 19 touchdowns and gained 3,019 all-purpose yards. He was utilized often in the wildcat formation, not only rushing, but completing 8 of 18 passes for 207 yards and 4 touchdowns. Sanu averaged 10.8 yards per reception over his college career and decided to declare a year early for the NFL draft, leaving before his senior season.
With numbers like these, he had the potential to be drafted much higher in the NFL. The Bengals got lucky, though. He was a diamond in the rough after a poor Scouting Combine appearance. Sanu ran his best 40-yard dash at a time of 4.62. His speed was not elite. His draft report card on NFL.com even stated that he is “slow off of the line and is not an explosive athlete”. So, Sanu and all of his talent fell a few places in the April draft. He fell into the right hands, though, at the right time.
Cincinnati was looking for a big, strong receiver, with great hands, and ability after the catch. They were looking for another miracle like what they found in Andy Dalton and A.J. Green the year before. They were looking for Mohamed Sanu and what they are getting is a fresh, dynamic offensive threat; a receiver with 0 regular season receptions and a 158.3 perfect passer rating. Even though Sanu remains unproven at the receiver position for the Bengals, I think it is safe to wipe our eyes after Sunday’s performance and ask, “Tebow who?” Well played Cincinnati, well played.