As expected, Rutgers junior wide receiver Mohamed Sanu announced his intentions to declare for the NFL Draft, skipping his senior season on the banks. It was the right decision at the right time for Sanu, who many predict will be drafted in the late first round to mid second round range.
Sanu set a school and Big East record this season, catching 115 passes this season. He gained 1206 yards and scored seven touchdowns. Considering the next top receiver on the team caught just 32 passes, Sanu was clearly the go-to guy for quarterbacks Chas Dodd and Gary Nova. Dodd inparticular looked for Sanu, sometimes immediately without even glancing at the others.
This brings me to my point. Sure, losing Sanu is a big hit because of his talent. The kid is a monster on the field. Any time you lose your top receiver, it’s a lose, but Rutgers has enough talent and depth at the position to overcome it. The issue won’t be a lack of capable receivers.
No, the issue will be finding one to be the go-to guy. You can have six good receivers, but if none of them step up to be the go-to guy, your offense will sputter. No matter how good the unit is, there will be plenty of times when the team is in need of a big first down or a big play. This is when the quarterback, regardless of who it is, needs to have that one guy he trusts the most to make the big catch.
Who will it be?
I think that guy could be tight end D.J. Jefferson, but let’s leave running backs and tight ends out of the equation for now. I’m talking strictly wide receivers.
Brandon Coleman was second on the team with 552 yards receiving. Is he the guy? Unlikely. Coleman is more of a home run threat. He has not proven to be one capable of doing the dirty work. Making that quick 3 or 4 yard slant in the middle of the field and holding on while taking a big hit.
Mark Harrison was expected to be the second option this past season after Sanu. Harrison however, had a disappointing season, catching just 14 passes for 274 yards. He is certainly capable of being the go-to guy but his issues holding onto the ball when it hits his hands this season is a major question mark.
So, ruling Coleman and Harrison out, I came to two players I feel are most likely to become the go-to guys. You may be surprised but Tim Wright or Quron Pratt fit the mold better than the bigger names I just mentioned.
Believe it or not, Pratt finished the season second on the team with 32 receptions. Like Sanu, Pratt averaged just over 1o yards per catch. What does that mean? It means he was looked at in short yardage situations, plays in the middle of the field. We saw Pratt make some exceptional grabs this season while also taking some big time hits from the opposition.
Tim Wright fought back from an injury to catch 11 passes for 147 yards. Wright is a guy that could step up and help the Rutgers offense. He has the size to go over the middle, and the strength to handle the hits that come along with that. He definitely has the hands as well.
Who knows, maybe it won’t be just one guy. Maybe the combination of Wright and Pratt can handle the go-to roles. Having two guys is perfectly fine, you just have to make sure there is at least one. Let Harrison and Coleman big the deep threats, using their size and speed to their advantage.
The only way to replace the production of Sanu is by having someone else step up now. Someone must use this as their opportunity to shine. It has to be someone that can handle doing the dirty work.
Who do you think will become the go-to guy?