With the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft winding down on Thursday night, Rutgers wide receiver Mohamed Sanu got the phone call every prospective NFL player waits for— that he was the 27th overall pick by the Cincinnati Bengals.
Sitting with family and friends, a rush of unexpected excitement swept through the living room of his New Jersey home as he envisioned being on the receiving end of Andy Dalton's passes after he got the call. Up until then, Sanu was considered a second or third round pick at best.
When Sanu's agent, Mike McCartney, got the good news from Sanu, he was a little surprised but it all seemed "normal" as he put it. So he went to Twitter and proudly tweeted, "SANU to Bengals!"
"Everybody's going nuts in his home. He's like, I can't hear you, Mike, I'll call you soon," McCartney recalled about the moments after the call. "His brother calls me and he's euphoric and going nuts. We're all kind of high-fiving over the phone. And I said, 'They're about to show it on ESPN. I'll call you later.'"
For a few moments more, the celebration continued then quickly turned to confusion.
After Sanu's agent had tweeted the big news and Sanu and his supporters waited for the big announcement on the TV screen, Cincinnati selected Wisconsin guard Kevin Zeitler.
Sanu had been pranked-called on the biggest night of his young football career. The first round would end later, without Sanu's name being called.
When McCartney heard the Bengals' pick on ESPN, he hoped Sanu had misheard which team had called him and called Sanu's brother to check it out. When there was nothing but silence on the other end of the line, he feared the worst.
In all of the excitement to answer the phone, Sanu hadn't even noticed the northern New Jersey 908 area code on his phone.
Sanu quickly shook off the mean trick like an old pro.
"It'll be all right. It's meant to be that I''ll be with another team," McCartney recalls Sanu saying to him after the letdown. "If it happens tonight great, if not, it'll happen (Friday)."
Sanu, nor his family or friends have expressed any anger to the young man who played the prank. In fact, Sanu didn't even call the number back, his agent did.
"It was some kid from Rutgers who said his friend got his phone and played a practical joke. He was apologetic," McCartney said. "He said he doesn't work for the athletic department and wouldn't tell me how he got Mohamed's number, wouldn't tell me his name."
McCartney— the son of former Colorado head coach Bill McCartney— kept his emotions in check.
"I just said to the kid, 'Do you understand how much pain you just caused? And it's not just him, it's his family. Do you understand what you did?'" McCartney said. "At that point, there was nothing more I could do."
On Friday morning, Sanu tweeted, "Thank God for giving me another day and another opportunity to chase my dream. #thankfuland blessed."
Maybe tonight, some team will be smart enough to draft this kid. Just check the area code Mohamed.