After spending many of the early years of his life travelling around with his parents, Mohamed Sanu settled back in central New Jersey to go to high school and college.
The people at South Brunswick High School and Rutgers University are very happy about that decision.
Sanu was born in New Brunswick on August 22, 1989. He would move to Sayreville. He would move to Sierra Leone in West Africa, where his mother still lives. He would move to Atlanta, where his father still lives.
As he was ready to go into the sixth grade, Sanu's sister, Haja Jabbie, offered up a more permanent home for him in South Brunswick.
"Moving around I got to have a lot of different experiences and got to meet a lot of different people," Sanu said.
He did note, however, "it was good to settle down somewhere."
According to Sanu, South Brunswick was a great place to establish roots.
"Coming through South Brunswick, I got a great foundation to start from," Sanu said. "I got a great education."
Part of Sanu's education was on the football field. He played quarterback (threw for roughly 900 yards his junior year). He was a great runner (ran for about 700 yards his junior year). He also punted and was a top-notch safety. Thanks in large part to Sanu, the 2007 South Brunswick High School football team was the first from the school to make the state playoffs in 30 years.
"It was very satisfying," Sanu noted of making the playoffs. "We were very excited about that. We felt we could do better (South Brunswick lost in the first round of the states), but it was our first year together."
Unfortunately, Sanu would not be able to compete with his teammates his senior year. He had turned 19 before the season began. He was allowed to practice with the team, but he was not permitted to play in any games.
"It was a unique situation, but I learned how to deal with it," Sanu said. "I looked at the positives. I was able to practice and help my teammates get better. I was also able to prepare for college."
Sanu didn't sulk. He worked. Even though he wasn't allowed to play his senior season, ESPN.com had him rated as the 19th best safety among all high school players.
, who saw him more as a wide receiver, a returnman, a runner and a quarterback on the option play.
The irony is that after not playing his senior year in high school, Sanu started right away for Rutgers. He had 639 yards receiving and 346 rushing. Sanu would go on to be the MVP of the St. Petersburg Bowl.
"I was surprised by that (starting as a freshman)," Sanu said. "I just figured if they wanted me to do it, i just needed to step up."
It's all just part of Sanu's makeup. While Rutgers moved him around to several different positions his first two seasons, he embraced the challenge and collected touchdowns throwing, running and catching the ball. Now that the team wants him to start 2011 as just a wide receiver, he looks at it as a challenge to see how good he can be at that position.
"I get to focus on one thing," Sanu said. "I'll just work to be the best I can be."
When Sanu says best he can be, he means the field, classroom and the community. Still over a week away from turning 22, he understands some people view him as a role model. He's made it a point to come talk to younger kids in schools.
"I was once in their shoes," Sanu said. "You need someone to come and help guide you through the process that they're going through now. They need that person to come and let them know you need to do this to get to this stage."
In many respects, that person for Sanu was his sister, who is a regular at all Rutgers home games.
"She's been taking care of me," Sanu said. "She's like a mother when my mom's not here. She's a big sister when I need her to be. She's very important to me. She's very close to my heart."
She's definitely someone that will be in the stands for years if Sanu continues to develop as a player.
"Hopefully, I'll be able to play in the NFL," noted Sanu.
Sanu might not even need to move away again. There are, after all, two NFL teams that play in New Jersey, not all that far away from his home in South Brunswick.
on Rutgers University wide receiver Mohamed Sanu, a top NFL prospect and one of the greatest athletes in the history of South Brunswick High School.