Moore Makes Move

Mike Moore

ATHENS – Every day when Georgia lines up to stretch before practice, Mike Moore walks back to his place with the fourth-stringers and begins to loosen up.

Maybe it's just that he doesn't want to jinx anything, but Moore is far from a fourth-stringer these days. The redshirt sophomore from Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., is making a push to be one of the No. 13 Bulldogs' opening day starters at wide receiver.

Georgia plays Oklahoma State on Sept. 1 at 6:45 p.m. in Sanford Stadium. The game will be televised by ESPN2.

"Mike has been lights out the last couple weeks," cornerback Bryan Evans said. "He's caught my eye the most out of every receiver. He's been coming up with some great catches."

Moore, who made a diving 31-yard touchdown catch near the start of the Bulldogs' Friday evening scrimmage, is battling senior Mikey Henderson for the starting Z receiver spot, which is traditionally considered the deep threat in Georgia's offense.

It's a welcome change for a receiver who considers his first two years a disappointment. Moore's stated goal when he committed to Georgia was to break Fred Gibson's freshman receiving record in his first season.

Instead, he redshirted. Then he injured his knee in bowl practice and missed all of the next spring. When he finally got on the field last season, the results were underwhelming: two catches for 36 yards.

"When I first came in, I thought I was in shape, but I just got worn out during camp," Moore said. "Then I had my injury, and that kind of slowed me down. But being healthy is probably the main thing that's been helping me out this year."

With the momentum of a spring practice, complete summer workouts and now preseason camp behind him, Moore is happy to be turning around what he thinks is a tarnished image.

"It's a big load off my chest," he said. "People were down on me when I came here and people were still down on me just a couple months ago."

Moore made strides by emulating former Peach County star A.J. Bryant, a senior receiver for the Bulldogs, safety Kelin Johnson said.

"The coaches told him, watch this guy, watch this guy practice, watch this guy work hard off the field and when nobody is looking. I think he grasped onto that. A.J. showed him the way."

Johnson feels a special kinship with Moore, he said, since both are Florida natives.

"You get tired of just watching everybody else playing, and eventually it kicks in," Johnson said. "That's showing right now. He's catching the ball; he's making plays; he's getting separation."

And he's far from a fourth-teamer.

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