Many Iowa State fans probably have at least heard of Rutgers WR Mohamed Sanu by now. However, I’m sure almost all (including me) did not know who he was before the announcement of the Pinstripe Bowl. Sanu is one of the most underrated and unheard of stars in college football.
Sanu spent his senior year in high school only participating in practices. Sanu was 19 years old and ineligible to play in games. Instead of going to a prep school, Sanu decided to stick with the team and try to help out the coaches. At the time, Sanu was a quarterback but tried out several positions during practice. Sanu was a 3-star and being recruited as a safety.
He enrolled at Rutgers that spring and practiced as a safety for the Scarlet Knights. He was eventually moved to receiver because Rutgers was lacking depth at that position. I’m not sure that Greg Schiano or any other coaches at Rutgers could have imagined of what would happen. Sanu has become a star at RU.
ESPN has the receiver at 6’2 and weighing in at 215. From reading different scouting reports on Sanu, he sounds a lot like Justin Blackmon. I’m not saying that Sanu is on Blackmon‘s level because Blackmon is truly an elite receiver, but they share similar characteristics. They both are around the same size although Sanu has a little more bulk and muscle. Both have excellent hands and have the ability to snatch a ball out of the air. Sanu doesn’t have Blackmon‘s great vertical threat. However, Justin Blackmon doesn’t have the strength that Sanu possesses. Sanu, according to several scouts, is good at dealing with contact in the early stages of his route.
Leonard Johnson was physical against Blackmon and it worked. It will be interesting to see if Johnson can do the same to Sanu. I’ll have a post later in the week on just the matchup between Johnson and Sanu.
To see how effective Sanu really is, take a gander at his stats this year. Sanu recorded 109 catches for 1144 yards and 7 touchdowns. To put those numbers in perspective, Darius Reynolds lead ISU with 41 receptions for 655 yards. Sanu broke Larry Fitzgerald’s Big East single season receiving record earlier this year.
If Iowa State wants to capture their second bowl win in three years, they are going to need to limit Mohamed Sanu. Like Blackmon, I don’t expect the Cyclones to shut him down completely. It will be strength vs strength: Mohamed Sanu against ISU’s talented secondary. Whoever wins this matchup will likely win the game.