It’s a Bama-Georgia tug-of-war for Valdosta’s Malcolm Mitchell, Jay Rome

Valdosta's Malcolm Mitchell (L) and Jay Rome are extremely close but will be making their announcements separately on Thursday. (AJC photo by Chip Towers)

Valdosta's Malcolm Mitchell (L) and Jay Rome are close friends but will be making their college announcements separately on Thursday. (AJC photo by Chip Towers)

Malcolm Mitchell insists he and Valdosta teammate Jay Rome are good friends; always have been, always will be. But one is left to wonder what’s going on when they decide to announce on the same day but at different times 80 miles apart.

Mitchell is going to make his college decision public at 7 p.m. Thursday night at a local restaurant in Valdosta. Rome, meanwhile, has agreed to make his announcement live on ESPNU’s “Recruiting Insider” show an hour-and-a-half earlier. The problem is that is going to require Rome to drive to a TV station in Tallahassee, Fla., where the world wide leader can establish a satellite link.

None of which to say that ESPNU thinks more of Rome, a five-star tight end, than it does Mitchell, a four-star wide receiver/defensive back. The network, which got up close and personal with both players during the Under Armour All-America Game festivities in Florida earlier this year, extended an invitation to Mitchell to join Rome for the on-air announcement.

Mitchell declined.

“I’m just not that big on the TV thing,” said Mitchell, who is the No. 6 player on the AJC Fab 50 list. “I just wanted to do it [in Valdosta] so everybody that watched me in high school can be there.”

Both players, of course, have narrowed their choices to Georgia and Alabama. So the fact that they’d be making their announcements at different venues has folks thinking they’re headed in different directions with their decisions. In general, Rome is thought to be a heavy Georgia lean and Mitchell a Bama lean.

Not necessarily, Mitchell said. “Nah, it doesn’t mean anything.”

Said Rome: “I have no idea where he’s going to go.”

My communication with Rome has been brief and primarily via text lately. But I was able to have an extended conversation with Mitchell this week, the first time since we were in Orlando for the Under Armour practices the first week of January.

I asked him about his relationship with Rome. Are they as close as it would seem from a distance? “We hang out,” he said. “We’re good friends.”

Both players took official visits to Alabama this past weekend. But they traveled separately and went on different days. Mitchell was there Friday-Sunday while Rome was there Saturday-Monday.

“It was fun,” Mitchell said of the trip. “They know how to show you a good time.”

I asked Mitchell what was the most enjoyable part of the visit. “Probably riding four-wheelers at Coach Saban’s house. That was a lot of fun.”

Of the recruiting aspect of the visit, Mitchell said the Crimson Tide “gave me some more to think about.”

He said Bama, which initially was recruiting him purely as a cornerback, was coming more Georgia’s way and telling him he could play both sides of the ball.

“They’re saying whatever I want to do,” Mitchell said. “They’re giving me the option as well.”

In fact, in need of help at wide receiver, the Bulldogs are telling Mitchell he could have a full-time shot on offense. Mitchell blossomed as an offensive threat under first-year coach Rance Gillespie this past season. A more open offensive attack gave Mitchell the chance to catch 77 passes for 1,419 yards and 13 TDs.

“I think Coach Gillespie coming to Valdosta helped expose every aspect of my athletic abilities,” Mitchell said. “Him getting the ball in my hands showed everybody what I was capable of doing. I had offers before that, but I think it put in everybody’s mind what kind of player I can be.”

According to Gillespie, the sky’s the limit for Mitchell.

“Jay Rome is a fantastic football player. He’ll probably play in the NFL one day,” Gillespie said. “But Malcolm Mitchell is the best athlete I’ve ever coached.”

When I spoke to Mitchell on Monday night, he insisted he still had not made up his mind. So asked him what would he do to arrive at a decision.

“I’m just going to spend some time thinking about it and praying about it,”he said. “I’ll talk to my mom and we’ll decide what’s the best thing for me.”

Whatever that is, it won’t necessarily be the same as his buddy Jay.

395 comments Add your comment

CBB1

January 19th, 2011
12:54 pm

Chip Towers

January 19th, 2011
12:55 pm

CBB1: Indeed you are! Good work.

"Whatchagot Loran?"

January 19th, 2011
1:00 pm

"Whatchagot Loran?"

January 19th, 2011
1:01 pm

Indeed I am….minus Chip of course

Good golly

January 19th, 2011
1:01 pm

Jenkins
Crowell
Drew
Mitchell
Rome

My wishlist in that order

how2fish

January 19th, 2011
1:01 pm

Chip good article we could use both of these young men in Athens !

"Whatchagot Loran?"

January 19th, 2011
1:03 pm

Agree on wish list and good article…no particular order. Want them all to be Dawgs!

j

January 19th, 2011
1:04 pm

oh man, how could mitchell turn down the chance to start on both sides of the ball? Not a whole lot of players get that chance: Charles Woodson, Champ Bailey, and I guess that dude on Oregon are the only ones that come to mind

7-6 I mean 6-7

January 19th, 2011
1:07 pm

This is what happens when you have a crappy season and you lose your bowl game. You lose top tier recruits. Sounds like Rome will be a Dawg because of our use of tight ends, but Mitchell sounds Bama bound. I hope Mitchell comes to UGA, but I’m not going to hate on a kid for going to play for Nick Saban.

Will

January 19th, 2011
1:10 pm

Last time I checked Bama was over the allotment for recruits in 2011. Someone needs to inform these kids Bama is breaking the rules.

RxDawg

January 19th, 2011
1:10 pm

Should be interesting to watch. I know Bama is going to get some Georgia players, and good for those players. But if UGA want’s the same Georgia player that Bama wants, I would hope UGA would win out more times then not. Good luck to all in this recruiting sweepstakes.

Buford 4 straight

January 19th, 2011
1:12 pm

If ya’ll keep thinking Crowell is as good as Lattimore, there’s gonna be a lot of sad fans next year, he’s Ealey with an even worse attitude. He’s going to sign with us, but only cause he thinks Saban is not as understanding as Richt.

Bob in Buford

January 19th, 2011
1:12 pm

Please stop this first crap. Rome=UGA, Mitchell=Bama

Trojan

January 19th, 2011
1:13 pm

Mitchell and Rome could be home state heros!

Dawg_Mike

January 19th, 2011
1:14 pm

Riding 4 wheelers at Saban’s house….LOL.

Dawg_Mike

January 19th, 2011
1:16 pm

What if they had an accident and got injured or worse?
4 wheelers – Give me a break.

bigtime

January 19th, 2011
1:16 pm

Good read Chip , keep up the good work. Mitchell will look good on The Alabama roster next year.

ROLL TIDE

Roaddawg80

January 19th, 2011
1:17 pm

Dawg_Mike

I wouldn’t laught to hard. What ever they are doing is working.. Just saying

Brown Dog

January 19th, 2011
1:17 pm

Check again, Will. Saying it over and over on this blog doesn’t make it even more true.

Brown Dog

January 19th, 2011
1:18 pm

“any” more true

rincon dawg

January 19th, 2011
1:18 pm

good article who knows what they are going to decide. But mitchell is so dang fast you would be a fool not to use him both ways.

Bill Murray

January 19th, 2011
1:19 pm

@Bob in Buford

Lighten up Francis

TONE

January 19th, 2011
1:23 pm

They will all go to Bama or $Auburn$
according to sources at breakfast

RRTDawgs

January 19th, 2011
1:23 pm

I think that is interesting that UGA said he can play on both sides of the ball that what he wanted all along most Bama fans have been saying UGA has just been recruiting as WR the dawgs are good shape with Rome and if don’t get Mitchell will still finish with a good class .

Gray Shirt

January 19th, 2011
1:24 pm

Does anyone know if Alabama is offering me or an actually scholarship to these boys?

isaiah crowell

January 19th, 2011
1:24 pm

i wish u two the best of luck!!

Roaddawg80

January 19th, 2011
1:24 pm

I think tomorrow will go how everyone thinks it will go. Rome to UGA and Mitchell to Bama. Anything other than that will be a surprise. I just hope in UGA’s case it is not a bad surprise for them. Don’t think the fan base will except anymore bad news right now.

Roaddawg80

January 19th, 2011
1:29 pm

Chip

Can you get any info on the in home visit by CMR last night to Crowell and Drew? I would like to know Crowell stand point on the scholorship offer to his buddy now that he has talked to Richt.

Cobb Dawg

January 19th, 2011
1:33 pm

A good HC would keep most of these players at home like Dooley did. GA players should want to play for GA schools.

Sioux Dawg

January 19th, 2011
1:33 pm

Could someone tell me who Georgia has recruited out of Valdosta that was a great, Buck B. comes to my mind.

RRTDawgs

January 19th, 2011
1:34 pm

Rome will be a dawg i think would be a surprise if Mitchell commits to the dawgs after Rome .

German Shepherd Dawg

January 19th, 2011
1:35 pm

If you really are Isaiah Crowell, welcome and best of luck in your future. Hopefully it will be as a Dawg.

If you’re an impostor, you should be ashamed of yourself…of course, I’m not using my real name at the moment because nobody knows who I am, but I’m not pretending to be someone I’m not.

mattugafan

January 19th, 2011
1:35 pm

I know I am behind the times but what happened to a DL named Fields and a LB named Baker that the Dawgs signed last year?Thanks in advance.

schmeckdawg

January 19th, 2011
1:37 pm

@Sioux Dawg

Here are a few: John Lastinger, Brice Hunter, Randall Godfrey although I believe he played at Lowndes. Damn with all of this pressure, that’s all that I can come up with right now.

Justin

January 19th, 2011
1:37 pm

Saban’s a great DEFENSIVE coach, no doubt. But, he does have his issues on OFFENSE. Richt’s none as an OFFENSIVE coach.

1- He rarely sends a WR into the NFL
2- He rarely beats Georgia in offensive scoring
3- McElroy is gone, so they’ll be starting a new really inexperienced guy at QB like Murray was this year, and Cox was last year
4- RB’s are gone, so the defense won’t have to overplay the run anymore
5- Saban moves after 5 or 6 years like clockwork, with no exceptions over his career

Georgia has:
1- History of getting WR’s into the NFL-AJ Green might go #1 in the NFL draft
2- Beat Bama in scoring nearly every year
3- Murray returns as the best QB in the SEC
4- RB’s King & Ealey are back, forcing defenses to overplay the run
5- Richt coached for 14 years at FSU & already 10 at Georgia, he doesn’t like to move around

German Shepherd Dawg

January 19th, 2011
1:38 pm

As far as the Harrow scholarship is concerned, Richt’s track record speaks for itself. He offers people he wants in his program. Period. If he didn’t want Harrow, he wouldn’t offer just to get Crowell.

He’s never operated that way before. Way too much emphasis is being given to recruiting services. They don’t impact coach decisions on which players to recruit. They know who they want.

BMDPD

January 19th, 2011
1:39 pm

I think he misspoke. It was riding four cheerleaders at coach Saban’s house.

schmeckdawg

January 19th, 2011
1:39 pm

RRTDawgs

January 19th, 2011
1:23 pm
I think that is interesting that UGA said he can play on both sides of the ball that what he wanted all along most Bama fans have been saying UGA has just been recruiting as WR the dawgs are good shape with Rome and if don’t get Mitchell will still finish with a good class .

RRTDawgs, I value your opinion, so it it going to be a “good class,” or a GREAT class?

naganole

January 19th, 2011
1:41 pm

@schmeckdawg Going to be top 10, so great class…

Real Problem

January 19th, 2011
1:42 pm

Rome is really a nice fit for Bama, but for whatever reason he seems all Georgia.

Mitchell is great fit for both schools.

Just me……if I was Georgia…..give me Mitchell. He is a rare talent that should be used on both sides of the ball.

Roaddawg80

January 19th, 2011
1:44 pm

Justin

I will agree on most but don’t forget Richardson is coming back for Bama!

I also agree that replacing Ingram, MCElroy, Jones will be a bigger problem than most think. Yes they have talent there but not much proven experience.

I disagree on people loading the box against Ealey and king. People do not fear them. Maybe it is not all their fault but mostly the OL. Maybe that will change during the 2011 season if things get better but as of right now I don’t agree with that.

And lastly Murray may be the best at the end of the year but not sure he will be the favorite going in. JMHO

1eyedJack

January 19th, 2011
1:44 pm

mattugafan, Jalen Fields failed to qualify and went the JC route. Demetre Baker had some attitude problems and got kicked to the curb.

BAMA BILL

January 19th, 2011
1:45 pm

BOTH TO BAMA !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

memphisdawg

January 19th, 2011
1:47 pm

Alec & Zander Ogleetree; Nathan Theus & John Theus; Hunter & Austin Long; Quintavious H. I. Crowell. I would say thats a pretty decent history of offering a much lower recruited individual in order to get the more highly touted player. Just calling it like i see it.

Well said

January 19th, 2011
1:47 pm

@mattugafan….Fields is at GMC and should return to UGA in 2012, Baker was kicked off team and I think is at So. Alabama now.

Roaddawg80

January 19th, 2011
1:47 pm

naganole

I am hearing more and more about a FSU player flipping to UGA. I am not sure who it may be but sources are saying it is happening and we will be very happy in about a week when the cat is let out of the bag.

Do you know who it may be?

isaiah crowell

January 19th, 2011
1:48 pm

still havent made my decision of where im going its 50 50

Sioux Dawg

January 19th, 2011
1:48 pm

Thank you Schmeckdawg, How could i forget 1 drive Lastinger, he only had 1 good drive in him, but it was a winning drive.

Justin

January 19th, 2011
1:49 pm

People were loading the box on Georgia ealy 2010, South Carolina and Miss St. AJ was oiut of those games, so Georgia didn’t have 2 receivers, to stretch the field, so defenses doubled Durham and brought 8 in the box. Got 2 have 2 WR’s that are deep threats, and got to be able to run the ball at @5 ypc, which Georgia does. Murray will be the SEC leader in passing in 2011, he almost was in 2010 as a freshman.

Want more, Eat Less

January 19th, 2011
1:50 pm

Enter your comments here- He rarely sends a WR into the NFL
2- He rarely beats Georgia in offensive scoring
3- McElroy is gone, so they’ll be starting a new really inexperienced guy at QB like Murray was this year, and Cox was last year
4- RB’s are gone, so the defense won’t have to overplay the run anymore
5- Saban moves after 5 or 6 years like clockwork, with no exceptions over his career

Georgia has:
1- History of getting WR’s into the NFL-AJ Green might go #1 in the NFL draft
2- Beat Bama in scoring nearly every year
3- Murray returns as the best QB in the SEC
4- RB’s King & Ealey are back, forcing defenses to overplay the run
5- Richt coached for 14 years at FSU & already 10 at Georgia, he doesn’t like to move around

Okay Justin,

Saban 2 National Championships Richt 0
Why would anyone want to go to UGA to see their team go 6-6, 5-7, maybe 7-5 ?

Why would anyone want to go to UGA to see their head coach and staff fired after one year on campus?

After the Head Coach is fired, the most likely candidate is currently on the staff at Alabama

Why go to a school that leads the nation in arrest?

Why go to a school that has seen its football graduation rate plummet from a 3rd in the SEC to 8th?

Why go to a school that has not been in the national picture for 4 to 5 years and has no outlook to?

How many Juniors left Alabama after 3 real years and are first round draft picks? 3

How many players from the Saban era teams at Alabama and LSU are in the NFL? 36

Why go to UGA when it will come down to beating Georgia Tech in Atlanta to become bowl eligible?

The quarterback at Alabama ( both) are higher ranked out of high school than Murray and LeMay

Running Backs are gone? Richardson, Goode, Lacey, Hart, Fowler, 5 star, 4 star, 4 star, 5 star, 4 star. What crack pipe did you use?

Saban will retire from Alabama.

Richt will be MOVING around after 2011- Forced to Move.