South Brunswick celebrates Sanu’s trip to Super Bowl

Eric Sucar
Students celebrate the colors of the Atlanta Falcons and graduate Mohamed Sanu at South Brunswick High School in Monmouth Junction on February 3.

By Warren Rappleyea

Although his trip to the Super Bowl ended in disappointment, Mohamed Sanu’s hometown of South Brunswick will always stand behind him.

The Atlanta Falcons’ wide receiver is well remembered at South Brunswick High School. On Feb. 3, Sanu’s alma mater showed it’s Sanu Pride as the Student Council hosted “It’s a Sanu day … Dream Big.” Instead of the school’s colors of black and gold, most students donned black and red to support Sanu as he prepared for his first Super Bowl appearance.

The event was planned by the school’s activities coordinator, Lauren Morris, Senior Class Advisor Kelly Boyer, Athletic Director Elaine McGrath and Athletic Department Administrative Secretary Karen Bertucci.

The Student Council sold out of 500 t-shirts promoting the day, and the proceeds will be used to for council members to attend a leadership conference during the summer, according to Morris, who also teaches social studies.

Sanu was a standout on the gridiron for the Vikings. While at South Brunswick, Sanu played quarterback in 2007 and helped his team reach the state sectional playoffs for the first time in 30 years.

After starring at Rutgers University, Sanu was drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals of the NFL and spent four seasons in the Queen City. Following the 2015 season, the 6-foot-2, 210-pounder signed a five-year, $32.5 million contract with the Falcons. During the 2016 campaign, Sanu caught 59 passes for 653 yards and four touchdowns.

“We really wanted to do something to support ‘Mo,’ ” Morris said. “It started our as just an idea, and it snowballed from there. A lot of teachers had Mo, and they all liked him. Everyone is so proud of him because he’s such a good person. So we thought we could honor Mo and use him as an example. Look what he has accomplished by dreaming big. We want to encourage all of our students to dream big.”

The Student Council ordered red and black t-shirts intending to sell them at the high school. Word quickly spread throughout the township and the t-shirts quickly sold out, Morris said.

Vikings football coach Joe Goerge has many Sanu stories. Needless to say, the South Brunswick mentor thinks highly of Sanu.

“Mo obviously has great talent, he wouldn’t be where he is today if he didn’t,” Goerge said. “What’s so impressive is the way he handles himself. He really cares about the community and our kids. Mo’s a low-key guy who just does all the right things. He always comes out to help us. One year on his bye week, he was out in the rain working with our kids at practice. He doesn’t have to do things like that, but he does them.”

Sanu frequently asks South Brunswick players to help out at his annual football camp for youngsters, which is done in partnership with the Embrace Kids Foundation to help disadvantaged children.

Another of Goerge’s stories is about a phone call he was having with Sanu.

“We were talking about different things and I mentioned that two of our players were not doing what they should be doing in the classroom,” the South Brunswick coach said. “So Mo says, ‘Call them to your office, I’ll be there in 10 minutes.’ You can’t imagine the impact that had. And those two kids picked it up in the classroom.”