By Bobby “Blackjack” –Taking Football Live Host-on Special to Football Reporters
Greetings from Piscataway! Ok, so it doesn’t have the same zing as Bruce Springsteen’s Greetings from Asbury Park. But those in attendance were there to see either the next great export from New Jersey, WR Mohamed Sanu or perhaps the next great hidden gem, FB Joe Martinek. Among those under the Rutgers practice dome included scouts from 25 NFL teams and I even saw one from the Canadian Football League. Rutgers’ Alums in attendance included All-Pro RB Ray Rice, Bengal RB Brian Leonard, the Dolphins’ new LB Jamaal Westerman and Eric LeGrand among others.
After a dismal showing at the NFL Combines, WR Mohamed Sanu had something to prove. He ran a laser-timed 4.67 at the Combines, which subsequently led to his pre-draft ranking dropping. Well, today, he showed his critics that the Combine numbers were a fluke. The 6’2” 211 pound receiver ran 4.41 in the 40 yard dash, a time that should have him back among the top 10 WR prospects in this year’s draft. When asked why the difference in times, he explained that “he was not feeling too well” the day of the Combine and that it “affected his usual pop the first 10 yards.” Sanu brought some name recognition with him for the passing drills as former Tennessee QB Matt Simms was the one throwing to him. He is Rutgers’ and the Big East’s single season leader in receptions with 115, ahead of some NFL notables like All-Pro WR Larry Fitzgerald and former Rutgers star WR Kenny Britt. On the Big East career receptions list, he’s also the leader there with 210, ahead of alum and attendee Brian Leonard.
Being two guys from the smaller high schools in New Jersey ourselves, my co-host and I on Talking Football LIVE have always been a big fan of FB Joe Martinek. Here’s a kid from small Hopatcong High School, the 2006 Gatorade New Jersey State High School Player of the Year and the all-time leader in state history with 7,589 yards rushing and 80 TD’s. He then goes on to the bright lights of Rutgers and has a monster sophomore year with 967 yards rushing and 9 touchdowns. The future looks bright but injuries derail his junior year and this last year, he was asked to move to fullback. Martinek ran a very impressive 4.4 40 today, opening the eyes of many of the scouts there to check in on his teammate Sanu. In my talk with him after his Pro Day, I asked him if he felt any similarities to Brian Leonard, whose Rutgers career was very similar to his with the switch to FB and all. He said Leonard is a strong source of both inspiration and encouragement to him as both showed the Rutgers faithful their unselfishness by switching positions from star RB’s to FB, blocking the way for someone else to be the star. While Leonard was drafted out of Rutgers to the St. Louis Rams, the 5’11 224 pound Martinek will be very happy just to get his chance at the next level, allowing him to be an even bigger role model to other athletes coming from small schools. He wants to show them that no matter where you start your athletic careers, big things can happen to them too.
Among the other Rutgers players to showcase their skills included LB’s Manny Abreu and Edmond Laryea, DL Justin Francis, OL Desmond Wynn, Caleb Ruch and Desmond Stapleton.