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Carolina Panthers

Green could catch on in a big way


The National High School Sports Record Book for football is dotted with some staggering numbers and also with some familiar faces.

The top-10 all-time rushing list includes Panthers running back Tyrell Sutton as well as fellow NFL runners Toby Gerhart and Mike Hart, and the short list of 10,000-yard passers includes JaMarcus Russell and Tim Couch.

The top of the receiving lists, however, are devoid of name recognition – until now.

Georgia wide receiver A.J. Green ranks second in high school history with 5,365 receiving yards and sixth with 279 catches. Soon, he should rank as a top-10 NFL draft pick as well.

"I want to be mentioned with the best," said Green, regarded by most as the best receiver prospect in the 2011 draft class. "I'm not going to settle for being an average receiver. I don't want to fall by the wayside."

It's hard work rather than big talk that has Green in position to become a household name. Groomed at Summerville (S.C.) High School by another figure in the record book - all-time victories leader John McKissick - Green developed a work ethic long ago that has served him well.

"You can turn on the practice film and see the way I prepare week in and week out, just the way I approach practice just like a game," Green said. "It's just my passion for the game, the love I have for the game."

Green continued to hone his obvious athletic skills through hard work in three years at Georgia, where quarterback Matthew Stafford and fellow wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi spent a season with him before taking their skills to the NFL.

Stafford helped Green learn how to take advantage of a strong-armed quarterback against top-notch competition. Massaquoi, a Charlotte native, helped Green off the field as well.

"Mo has been my mentor since I stepped foot onto Georgia's campus. I go to him if I need any advice," Green said. "When I'm talking to Mo, we really don't talk football. He doesn't like to talk football unless I ask him a question."

Like everyone, Green has needed help during some tough times along the way.

When Green was 5 years old, his only sibling – older brother Avionce – was killed in a car accident. Then in the summer before his senior year at Summerville, mentor Louis Mulkey was among nine firemen killed in a blaze at a Charleston sofa store.

Last season, Green was the center of attention for the wrong reasons for the first time in his life when the NCAA suspended him for the first four games of the season for selling a jersey for $1,000 to a sports agent.

"Growing up, I didn't really face any adversity like that," Green said. "That really humbled me and tightened my circle down to the people I need to be around."

Even with those missed games and his decision to forgo his senior season, Green ranks third in school history with 2,619 receiving yards and second with 23 touchdown receptions.

With his name now established in high school and college record books, Green next hopes to make a name for himself on the pro level.

"There are a lot of great receivers out there," Green said, "and I want to be one of the best."


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