Published July 30, 2012 - 5:00pm
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Malcolm Mitchell enters 2012 as a sophomore, but he’ll be a first-year player on defense when UGA suits up against Buffalo in week one.
Fresh off a freshman campaign that saw Mitchell develop into the premier deep threat in the SEC, he will be two-timing at corner to help offset the attrition at the position. Three UGA starters are suspended for at least the first two games – Sanders Commings, Bacarri Rambo and Branden Smith, thus prompting the help of Mitchell at corner.
The move was made in time for Mitchell to get some experience in spring practice. He was a two-way standout for his high school team, boasting offers at corner and receiver from several big-time programs.
But Mitchell was fourth in receiving in the SEC last year, averaging 60.5 yards per game. He was second to only Tavarres King in receptions and receiving yards – 45 and 665 respectively – on UGA’s team. He became the biggest playmaker on offense when healthy.
Now, he is set to become Georgia’s first two-way player since Champ Bailey in 1998. However, Mitchell will have a tough time duplicating Bailey’s numbers, a year in which Bailey had 744 receiving yards, five TDs and was the top defensive player in the country, with three interceptions.
Just last week without even played a game at the position, secondary coach Scott Lakatos said Mitchell is already the team’s best corner.
“He’s probably our best corner,” secondary coach Scott Lakatos said. “He’s good. He’s a good player.”
Mark Richt also chimed in on Mitchell’s prospectus at corner:
“I wanted him at every practice as a defensive player because I don’t want to limit coach Grantham’s ability to call some type of scheme because Malcolm is in the game,” Richt said. “We need to match up against some of these teams we’re going to play that love to spread the ball, as Missouri does.”
You get a sense that the coaching staff will roll Mitchell out the first few weeks on defense, and, depending how well he does, transition him back over to offense where he’s a weapon.
I have no doubt in my mind that Mitchell is athletically gifted enough to play either position and really excel at both, but it’s of particular interest to see how the staff decides to use him. Starting at corner, in addition to seeing several plays at receiver, will just add to the grind that this conference already demands playing one position.
Typically, you see that freshmen hit a wall their first year when the bodies get tired. I could foresee Mitchell hitting a similar wall if used both ways.
Nonetheless, Mitchell is a talented addition to the secondary and should make Georgia fans feel slightly better about an unsettled secondary headed into week two at Missouri.