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March 16, 2009As a freshman, Malcolm Beyah wasted no time announcing to Blue Raider fans and the rest of the Sun Belt that he was the real deal.
Beyah scored a touchdown in four of MT's first five games, including a 117 yard receiving performance on the road at Kentucky in week three.
His breakout year was a big reason why a position that had been pegged as a question mark in preseason became a strength for the Raiders.
With all of the key contributors back from a unit that exceeded expectations last year, in addition to Desmond Gee's switch back to receiver from running back, there are no such question marks about the position as spring drills open.
How Beyah, who finished 2008 with 33 catches for 550 yards, responds in his sophomore season after such a fantastic debut will go a long way in determining how much further improvement the receiving unit can make.
"Our mindset is to go out there and make plays," Beyah said Monday. "We did it last year so we've just got to keep that going."
Among MT's main pass catchers last year, Beyah by far led the team in yards per catch with a 16.7 yard average in addition to six touchdown receptions.
His exceptional athletic ability easily makes him the top returning big play threat, but he is not focused on any expectations for himself, only on the work it will require to succeed again in 2009.
"Hard work is what it will require to take my game to the next level," the Chamblee (Ga.) product said. "Right now we are all working hard but if you want to be successful you've got to put that extra effort in. I'm trying to improve on my route running, getting open, and making plays after catching the ball."
Monday's opening spring practice was the first for the Raiders with new offensive coordinator Tony Franklin, who was hired by head coach Rick Stockstill in the offseason to replace the departed G.A. Mangus.
Franklin has had some opportunities in the film room with the offense, but Monday was the first chance Beyah and the rest of the offense had to work with Franklin between the white lines.
"It's a little different, but not too much," Beyah said of the offense Franklin is implementing. "Everything is more systematic. He wants everything done precise. We have to practice at it and the more we practice at it the better we will get doing things the way he wants them. (Learning new terms) is the hardest part. We know the routes. The hard part is getting the play calls and the terminology."
The most natural leaders among the receivers are the senior trio of Gee, Patrick Honeycutt, and Eldred King.
While Beyah would never try to overstep his boundaries in the leadership department, he's mindful that his daily actions are being watched by all of his teammates.
"I feel like there is a leadership role for me, but this is just my second year. I'm just trying to lead by example."
It's that work ethic that makes another big season a strong likelihood for the Peach State native.