Mohamed Sanu can do it all.
Devin McCourty called him "a super-athlete," Natale called him "a freak" and the early-enrolling true freshman may be one of the few dynamic spots on a day sure to feature staid play-calling. Sanu is a QB who may now be the team's biggest hitter (McCourty supported that), but was switched to wideout Tuesday and made the acrobatic catches Thursday to have that looking brilliant.
It was more of the same on Saturday.
But that meant opportunity, and Sanu, converted from safety to wide receiver on Thursday, impressed with four catches for 43 yards, highlight by a 17-yard touchdown pass off a quick slant.
Schiano still hasn't decided whether Sanu will remain on offense, but it's clear the 6-2, 215-pounder will be on the field this season. Sanu starred at South Brunswick High School playing quarterback, safety, punting and as a kick and punt returner, but had never played wide receiver until this past week.
Ever since his breakout performance at last summer's Governor's Bowl, Rutgers fans have been eagerly awaiting Sanu's arrival on campus. An overaged high school senior, he enrolled early for spring practice this year, and has not disappointed, drawing comparisons to Courtney Greene at safety. When the WR depth chart thinned out following several injuries, Sanu switched to offense, and quickly stood out.
Of course, it is just spring practice, and it'd be a mistake to expect too much from any true freshman. Let's humor the thought though: should Mohamed Sanu move to the wide receiver position permanently?
The biggest reason to move Sanu to receiver is what I call the "Mason Robinson principle". Robinson could have ended up at cornerback. He wanted to start out at running back though, and ended up on offense because he's one of the best athletes on the team. Reasoning being, it's a good idea to get the ball in the hands of your most dynamic players, regardless of whether or not they may technically be better off on defense.
The primary concern at receiver right now seems to be a lack of experience, with only a few upperclassmen. Rutgers brought in four receivers in the class of 2008 in Marcus Cooper, Eddie Poole, Keith Stroud, and Tim Wright. None of them really stood out as worthy of a spot on the two-deep during the spring. Incoming freshmen Aaron Hayward and Mark Harrison (hopefully, in the latter's case) are expected on campus this fall.
A position that's a relative weakness in 2009 could turn into a strength in a year. That'd a good problem to have; but if it happens, do you move Sanu back to safety then? Positions are fluid when players arrive on campus, but eventually they will have to settle in somewhere.
Additionally, don't overlook the fact that Sanu is very much needed on the defensive side of the ball. Rutgers returns two big hitters at safety in Joe Lefeged and Zaire Kitchen, but neither of them is proven in coverage, and Kitchen has had two knee surgeries.
Behind them is a group that's almost as inexperienced as the receiving corps. There's Sanu, Pat Kivlehan, Khaseem Greene, and Wayne Warren. Duron Harmon is a freshman to watch, and Abdul Smith could end up at corner or safety. Patching one problem may create depth issues elsewhere, like what happened on offense when Robinson moved to receiver, and backs started dropping like flies.
This question won't be answered in earnest until fall practice. Defenses are usually ahead a bit in the spring, so it's best to wait and see where the receivers are at in the fall before jumping to any conclusions. Rutgers does have two upperclassmen playmakers in Timmy Brown and Mason Robinson (he didn't get enough touches at RB last year, but his future is at receiver). RU may not need Sanu to set the world on fire. Now, it'd be nice to just have a dependable possession receiver.