Now "Just" A WR, Sanu Excelling

PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- The Wildcat is now a memory, and Rutgers junior Mohamed Sanu is proving his worth playing receiver exclusively. He is second in the nation with 43 receiving yards, and he is the focal point of the Scarlet Knights' passing game. So, why the big difference. examines how Sanu's preparation has changed to allow him to become the Big East's top receiver.

PISCATAWAY, N.J. – Having already played Pittsburgh twice, Mohamed Sanu knew what it meant the moment former Panthers offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti was hired to be Rutgers' new offensive coordinator.

"I knew the type of offense he ran," Sanu said, "so I was pretty happy with that."

To translate, it meant no Wildcat, no WildKnight, nor whatever else anyone wants to call what Rutgers ran ad nauseam last season.

It meant Sanu, now a junior, could focus on his first craft, which was being a receiver. And the dividends are unmistakable, and eye-popping, heading into Saturday's game against Pittsburgh (3:30 p.m., ESPNU).

With the 6-foot-2, 215-pound Sanu concentrating solely on being a receiver, he is putting up staggering numbers. Sanu's 43 catches are 33 more than the Scarlet Knights' second-leading receiver, fullback Joe Martinek.

His 428 receiving yards is more than three times as much as the second-leading receiver, Quron Pratt, who has 133 yards. And Sanu has five of Rutgers' eight touchdown catches.

"The main difference is he just looks so comfortable," said Rutgers junior linebacker Khaseem Greene, who is in his third season trying to defend Sanu. "Because he just focuses on one thing, and that's begin a receiver, it shows his abilities more. Obviously, the wear and tear on his body, it's hard to be a receiver and then play wildcat quarterback. As far as physically, he's doing real good."

It shows in Sanu setting a Big East and school record with 16 catches in last month's win against Ohio, and by being tied for second in the nation with his 43 catches. It is also one less than he had last season, and if he hits his average against the Panthers he will surpass his freshman total of 51.

"He really gets to take his time and work on his routes,' Rutgers quarterback Chas Dodd said. "Before, he had to split up time. In practice, he gets to focus strictly on his routes and learning his plays. I think the load is a lot less on him, and he gets to work on what he truly loves to do."

Sanu said he enjoyed certain aspects of the Wildcat, but the number of hits he absorbed from defenders it took an enormous physical toll.

"You're not as fast, not as explosive as you want to be, not as strong as you'd like to be," Sanu said. "It affects you a lot."

There is also a huge mental aspect of preparing to play two positions, which Sanu no longer has to do.

The last two seasons, when Sanu carried 121 times for 655 yards and four touchdowns out of the Wildcat, he spent pre-practice time in the receivers meetings. But when he returned to the Hale Center later in the day, he watched film and studied to play the Wildcat.

In practice, he would spent a large portion of his time playing Wildcat, which meant every rep as the Wildcat runner meant missing a rep as a receiver.

"Now, that time that I'm coming back is just for the receivers," Sanu said. "I don't have to come back and focus on the wildcat."

With more detailed route-running, and feeling better physically from not being hit so much, Sanu is playing the best football of his career.

"The thing that jumps out is he's just so much more elusive," Greene said. "Having a linebacker on him is the biggest mismatch you could have."

Scarlet Report Top Stories