Massaquoi now the leader of the receivers

ATHENS – Less than one year into his college career, Mohamed Massaquoi is the leader of the pack at wide receiver – and if anyone can "catch" on to something new it's the North Carolina native.

"It's different," said Massaquoi of his new role. "You are learning, but at the same time you know that you have to apply what you have learned (in teaching the younger guys)."

It won't be easy, however, for Massaquoi to pass on to the younger receivers his most exclusive talent – his ability to catch the ball.

"Mohamed has great hands," cornerback Paul Oliver said. "He catches most everything thrown his way. I don't ever remember him dropping anything."

Those skills pushed the youngster to the forefront of the Bulldog Nation quickly in 2005. Massaquoi burst onto the scene last season with a freshman year which rivaled Fred Gibson's in 2001. He started off strong with two catches for 47 yards in the season opener against Boise State. By the time the Dawgs hit the meat of their schedule Massaquoi was ready. His best game of the season came against Auburn – a 100-yard performance capped off with a touchdown.

"Mohamed is our leading returner at receiver. I feel confident in his ability to be a starter and to be very productive," Georgia head coach Mark Richt said. "For a true freshman to come in and basically rise above eight others scholarship players that were ahead of him on the depth chart when he showed up is a tribute to his ability to concentrate on the football and catch it."

Richt has reason to have faith in the sophomore, but was forced to depend on him even more due to Sean Bailey's ACL tear last December. Bailey is reportedly missing the entire 2006 season with the injury. Now the Bulldogs will have to address who will take Bailey's place as deep threat.

"I think Mohamed will be more of a deep threat this year," Oliver said. Kenneth Harris will likely get a bunch of looks as a deep-ball receiver, too. The duo has been coming on of late according to receivers coach John Eason.

Still, Massaquoi has some areas where he could improve.

"He didn't run the best routes last year necessarily," said Richt. "But I knew if the ball was in his area, there was a real good chance he was going to come down with it, whether or not he was wide open or had somebody near him. I think we'll see a lot better Mohamed Massaquoi because he's just going to be better at running those routes."

Massaquoi said learning to run proper routes comes with time, and that he's more comfortable now than ever before.

"I am going to be more relaxed this year because I know more what to expect," Massaquoi added.

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