One dandy Dawg

A lot of Southeastern Conference football fans don't know his name. Even those who do probably can't pronounce it. Still, Georgia sophomore Mohamed Massaquoi is part of a wave of talented young SEC wide receivers.

South Carolina freshman Sidney Rice took the SEC by storm last fall, finishing first in receiving yards (1,143), first in receiving touchdowns (13), first in scoring (78 points), second in yards per catch (16.3) and third in receptions (70).

Vanderbilt freshman Earl Bennett wasn't far behind, finishing third in receiving yards (876), second in receiving touchdowns (9) and second in receptions (79).

Though statistically overshadowed by his fellow rookies, Massaquoi quietly produced a superior year for the SEC champ Bulldogs last fall. The 6-2, 198-pounder finished second on Georgia's roster with 38 receptions and earned honorable mention Freshman All-America recognition from Sporting News. Rising to the occasion in big games, he had a six-catch, 108-yard outing vs. Auburn and had another six-catch performance against Georgia Tech.

Bulldog head man Mark Richt believes Massaquoi's success in the passing game, like Florida quarterback Chris Leak's, stems from the fact he played in a pro-style offense at Independence High in Charlotte, N.C.

"Scheme-wise, they're ahead of a lot of colleges in the things they're able to do," Richt said during the recent SEC Media Days, adding that Massaquoi got "a lot of experience running all the different routes, making different plays."

Like most freshmen, Massaquoi was buried at the bottom of the depth chart initially. His great hands quickly enabled him to move into the playing mix last fall, however.

"For a true freshman to come in and basically rise above eight other scholarship players that were ahead of him on the depth chart is a tribute to his ability to concentrate on the football and catch it," Richt said. "He didn't run the best routes necessarily, 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 he was wide open or had somebody near him. That's what's separating him right now – his ability to catch the ball in traffic and catch it on a real consistent basis."

Massaquoi should double his rookie numbers this fall. Of Georgia's top four 2005 pass catchers, he's the only one who's back for ‘06. Tight end Leonard Pope (39 catches) and wide receiver Bryan McClendon (35) are out of eligibility, while flanker Sean Bailey (16) will miss the 2006 season due to injury. Richt believes Massaquoi is ready for the heavier workload.

"I think we'll see a lot better Mohamed Massaquoi because he's just going to be better at running those routes," the coach said. "If he keeps catching the ball like he has, he's going to get a bunch for us this year."


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