SOUTH BRUNSWICK, NJ – Around 200 local kids had a chance to get pro football tips and do drills with NFL star and SBHS graduate Mohamed Sanu at the high school Thursday evening.
The Atlanta Falcons wide receiver brought a few other NFL players as well as a number of high school players to his second annual Sanu Crew Camp.
The free event allowed kids from the community to take part in several different football drills on the field at the school.
“We had a great turnout today, it is something for the kids, to give back to them and let them have a great time,” Sanu said in between working with five group of kids, each at different drill stations on the field. “It’s a great summer day, they get to meet some NFL guys and learn about football.”
Sanu starred for the Vikings before heading to a record-setting career at Rutgers University, and then picked up by the Cincinnati Bengals in the third round of the NFL draft.
He left the Bengals for the Falcons as a free agent this year.
“(I would like the kids) to have a good time and learn the fundamentals of football,” Sanu said. “I was once in their shoes, so I know what it’s like.”
“It is pretty fun and it’s really exciting to see Mohamed Sanu, and do football,” Crossroads Middle School center Greg Kurilla, 12, said.
After a brief welcome by Sanu, the kids took to the football field at the high school, breaking into five groups attending drill sessions for about eight minutes each.
The drills had the kids working on dexterity, various football moves and, of course, hauling in passes like Sanu himself.
Sanu made the rounds at each of the stations providing encouragement, tips on techniques and being available to share a smile and high fives with the attendees.
Greg’s mother, Jennifer Kurilla, said she had two kids participating in the camp.
“I think (the camp) is great,” she said. “It shows that somebody local, homegrown, can go on to bigger and better things if you work hard, and then (Sanu) comes back and is helping out, showing everybody what hard work is all about.”
She said she hopes her kids get a lot of good training through the entire football program in the township, starting at a young age in pee-wee, PAL, and going all the way through high school.
“(Greg) gets a lot of commitment out of it,” she said. “He learns from a young age what it’s like to be part of a team, what it’s like to be dedicated to something.”
Another parent, Patrick O’Rourke, brought his son, Drew, 11, to the camp.
“I think it is awesome that Mohamed comes back and gives back to the community,” he said.
“He inspires these kids to do better.”
High School Football Coach, and recent inductee into the coaches Hall of Fame, Joe Goerge was also on hand with about 15 volunteers from the team to help with the event.
“This is a typical ‘Mo’ type of thing,” Goerge said. “He has done a lot of these, his second year here (in South Brunswick). In the four years I’ve been here (as coach), he comes back every year during the summer, open weeks (during the NFL season) and works with the kids every day. Visits hospitals. He does a lot of things people don’t hear about.”
Goerge said Sanu came up through the South Brunswick program and is an excellent example about what could be for many of the youth in the football program.
“He has some unbelievable skills, but he is a hard worker,” Goerge said. “(When) every coach talks about Mo, they talk about his character and work ethic.”
Goerge said that the football community in South Brunswick is very strong and is like a family, with players and coaches working together at every level in the program.
“This is a great community, and a great thing,” Goerge, who has brought two state championships to the school in his four years leading the team. “At the forefront is Mo, but we have a lot of people here. It speaks volumes.”
The event was not just for boys either.
Carly Rosen, 12, is going into seventh grade at Crossroads Middle School this year and is looking to be a defensive safety on the football team as well as being the only girl on the roster.
“After watching NFL games, I thought I’d be really good at that position,” Carly said. “I thought (today) was a good opportunity to make my skills better and it’s really exciting that we get to meet Mohamed Sanu. I think it is really cool to have an actual NFL superstar from here.”
Carly’s mom April Rosen said she is proud her daughter is pursuing her passion with football and supports her trying out for the middle school team.
“She is a very independent, strong-willed girl, she can hold her own,” April Rosen said. “She plays flag football, and is the only girl. She’s played baseball back in time when she was the only girl.”
She said the coaching staff has been welcoming to Carly and it has been a good experience in the program so far.
“She (Carly) is very passionate about it and I like for her to do what she is passionate about,” she said. “If she is good at it, great. I’m absolutely okay with that.”
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