Sanu gets to Cincy for real
The Associated Press
CINCINNATI — Yes, Mohamed Sanu made it to Cincinnati. No kidding.
And, in a way, the receiver’s heartbreak after a first-round prank led to an upbeat ending. The Bengals took him in the third round and brought him to town on Saturday to get acquainted with the coaching staff that reached out to him a day earlier with a little encouragement over one of his toughest moments.
“It’s turned into a positive,” Sanu said, wearing a black Bengals polo shirt.
For a few minutes on Thursday night, it was tough to see anything positive about his draft experience. When the Bengals got ready to make the 27th selection in the first round, Sanu’s phone rang. Someone pretending to be a Bengals representative told him he’d been taken by Cincinnati — in the first round!
It was quite a moment. Nobody had projected him as a first-round pick. His family celebrated. Then, Commissioner Roger Goodell went to the podium in New York and announced that the Bengals had taken … Wisconsin guard Kevin Zeitler.
“We were all in shock,” Sanu said. “We didn’t know what happened.”
Sanu’s agent made a call and found out that Sanu had been the victim of a prank by someone with no ties to the Bengals. When the Bengals heard what had happened, they called Sanu the next day to offer encouragement. A few hours later, they decided to pick him.
The nasty prank has produced benefits. Instead of being just another third-round pick, Sanu got a lot of national attention for what happened to him and how it all ended rather appropriately.
“At first, I was little heartbroken,” Sanu said on Saturday. “After I looked at it, I’m just thankful now to be in Cincinnati and ready to get everything going.”
In addition to welcoming more newcomers to Paul Brown Stadium, the Bengals took five more players on Saturday, including Ohio State running back Dan “Boom” Herron with their final pick in the sixth round. That broke a long streak of the Bengals passing up Buckeyes in the draft — the last ones taken were defensive tackle Dan Wilkinson and fullback Jeff Cothran in 1994.
Herron was one of five players implicated in the tattoo-parlor scandal at Ohio State that led to coach Jim Tressel’s forced resignation and NCAA sanctions.
The 5-foot-10 running back led the Buckeyes to a 12-1 finish as a junior and a sixth straight Big Ten title. The scandal broke a month before the Buckeyes beat Arkansas 31-26 in the Sugar Bowl. Herron wound up suspended for the first six games last season.
He was concerned that his involvement would hurt him in the NFL draft.
“I wasn’t sure,” he said. “I knew it was going to be a learning process for me. I learned from my mistakes. It’s made me a better person.
“The questions always came up about it. I answered the questions honestly. Teams definitely wanted to know about it. Obviously they were concerned. They wanted to know what really happened. All I could do was to be honest about everything.”
The Bengals let running back Cedric Benson leave as a free agent after last season and signed free agent BenJarvus Green-Ellis from New England. Down to their last pick, they decided to give Herron a chance to win a supporting role.
“He’s a guy who’s had a productive career at Ohio State,” coach Marvin Lewis said. “We’re really excited to add him to our stable of guys and let him come in here and compete with our guys, and can he make the football team by playing on special teams, by being a runner, by being a receiver.”
While the Bengals shied away from Buckeyes over the years, they became fond of Georgia Bulldogs. They took Georgia tight end Orson Charles in the fourth round, giving themselves a complement to Jermaine Gresham at the position. He’s the fourth player from Georgia drafted by the Bengals in the last three years.
Charles is known for his strength — he set a combine record for a tight end by bench pressing 225 pounds 35 times. There was a concern when he was arrested for drunken driving in Athens, Ga., last month. Police said he was stopped at 3 a.m., failed part of a field sobriety test and had a blood alcohol level of .095, above the state’s legal limit of .08. Several NFL teams asked him about it before the draft.
“They wanted to know what happened,” Charles said. “I told them it was a one-time event that will never happen again. It was one of the worst things in my life. It was hard to explain to my little (11-year-old) brother what I did and to tell my mother how sorry I was.”
Overall, the Bengals took Alabama cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick and Zeitler in the first round, Penn State defensive tackle Devon Still in the second, Sanu and Clemson defensive tackle Brandon Thompson in the third, and Charles in the fourth. They had three picks in the fifth round: Iowa cornerback Shaun Prater, California receiver Marvin Jones and Boise State George Iloka.