New contracts, Malcolm Mitchell to defense highlight UGA spring football

UGA FOOTBALL NOTEBOOK

ATHENS – As expected, the University of Georgia on Monday announced contract extensions for head football coach Mark Richt and defensive coordinator Todd Grantham.

Richt, who has been the Bulldogs’ coach for 11 years, received a three-year extension that will pay him through the end of the 2016 season. Grantham, who just completed his second season at Georgia, had two years added to make his a three-year deal through the 2014 season.

“I’ve never really changed my stance on how I feel about Georgia from the first day I got the opportunity to be here,” Richt said during a news conference Monday at UGA’s Butts-Mehre Heritage Hall. “My goal and my wife Katharyn’s goal was to build our life in Athens and raise our children here and finish my coaching career here. That thought has never changed for me.”

The deals – which essentially are new contracts – are expected to include modest salary increases, though UGA Athletic Director Greg McGarity said financial terms are still being finalized.

“We’ve agreed upon [financial terms] but that’s sort of in the hands of the lawyers,” McGarity said. “We’ve agreed on the major parts. We met a couple of weeks ago and talked about it. So now we’re tweaking some things and it’s in the lawyers hands to work through some language and things like that. There’s really not a rush. Whenever it’s ready, it’s ready.”

Richt’s job was thought to be in jeopardy before last season, then the Bulldogs won 10 straight to finish 10-4. He is 106-38 in 11 seasons at UGA. He has won two SEC championships and won or shared five SEC East titles. His winning percentage of .736 is fourth best among active coaches.

Georgia finished fifth in the nation in total defense under Grantham’s leadership last season. Including suspended cornerbacks Sanders Commings and Branden Smith, the Bulldogs return 10 starters on that side of the ball for next season.

McGarity said no other contract extensions are currently planned for any other of Georgia’s assistants.

Mitchell moving to defense

Depth concerns due to attrition in the secondary solidified Richt’s decision to move star wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell to cornerback full time for spring practice.

Mitchell starred on the offensive side of the ball as a true freshman last season. He caught 45 passes for 665 yards and four touchdowns despite missing four games with a hamstring string. But he was a four-star prospect as a defensive back at Valdosta High before coming to Georgia and volunteered to play on that side of the ball after the Bulldogs lost several defensive backs due to disciplinary problems and transfers.

Richt said he was not sure yet whether Mitchell will play both ways once the season starts

“Malcolm was going to play a big role at corner regardless of what happened with Branden [Smith],” Richt said. “Our goal is for him to help us on both sides of the ball. I don’t know what’s going to happen in the fall, whether he’ll go exclusively defensive back or not yet. But you can’t be in both meetings at the same time. So, early on, we’re going to have to have him help at corner.”

Richt said the coaches feel they can afford to move Mitchell because of the depth they have at wide receiver.

“We had to sit there and measure what’s going to happen if we take him out of the receiving corps,” Richt said. “Do we still have enough guys that can make plays? And I think we have enough guys that can make plays that we could make that move. . . . [Offensive coordinator Mike] Bobo and [receivers coach Tony] Ball weren’t thrilled about my decision to move him to defense, but that’s the way it goes sometimes.”

Strength staff completed

Richt also completed his strength and conditioning staff before heading off on a trip with wife Katharyn to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary. The Bulldogs hired John Thomas, head strength coach at Penn State for the last 20 years, as senior associate director. They also hired Sherman Armstrong, a “speed specialist” from VAST training academy in Tampa, as associate strength and conditioning coach.

Their additions give the Bulldogs five full-time members of the strength staff, joining director Joe Tereshinski and assistants Rex Bradberry and Tony Gilbert. Five is the maximum number allowed under new NCAA legislation that goes into effect in August.

Malcome impressing at tailback

Richt was asked if he had seen a growth in that maturity of tailback Isaiah Crowell during the offseason. But halfheartedly acknowledged he had but ended up praising rising sophomore Ken Malcome instead.

“I’m really seeing a lot of positives out Ken Malcome,” Richt said “The last couple of mat drills, he turned a corner, in my opinion. And talking to our academic people about his change of demeanor and maturity level, he comes in and takes care of his business. You don’t have to prod him along like you do a lot of freshmen. He’s turning the corner.”

As for Crowell, Richt said, “he’s definitely growing up. To say he’s there and he’s reached it and he understands completely all the work ethic and everything it takes to be great, I’d say he’s in the process of getting there like a lot of other guys that are freshmen. He’s just the one everybody watches closer than most.”

ETC. . . .

Richt said he has brought in several NFL coaches to meet with the Bulldogs about their special teams strategies and practices. He said they’ll devote more time to it during spring practice and that you can expect many more starters on special teams units. “I even told [quarterback] Aaron [Murray] he may be covering kicks.”. . . Richt said outside linebacker Sterling Bailey (ankle) and wide receiver Chris Conley (shoulder) will practice but be held out of contact during spring practice. . . . The G-Day Game has been set for April 14 at 3 p.m.

132 comments Add your comment

AJC

March 12th, 2012
5:09 pm

You must be a Georgia fan with nice things to say or this board will shut down.
Thanks for your support
AJC

Dawgs SEC Champs 2013

March 12th, 2012
5:15 pm

Mitchell needs to play both ways,he is the best reciever on offense.

Dawgs SEC Champs 2013

March 12th, 2012
5:16 pm

Really we all know Richt record is NOT 106-83 !!!!!!!!!

High times in Athens again

March 12th, 2012
5:16 pm

Looks like UGA is making another big run for the Fulmer Cup.

doc

March 12th, 2012
5:17 pm

a hamstring string? pitiful.

Tom

March 12th, 2012
5:29 pm

Q: What do horses do when they get up to the plate?

A: H..o..r..s..e..s….h..i..t.

excessive celebration

March 12th, 2012
5:30 pm

we are once again going to be the best thing since sliced bread. We have no discipline issues. everything is great! looking forward to another National Championship! Show the love!!! positive enough?

Shane

March 12th, 2012
5:33 pm

@hightimes glenn rice is trying to help out tech’s cause as well

fact checker

March 12th, 2012
5:34 pm

how about 106-37 !!!!!!!!!!! dead journalism

Mad Dog One

March 12th, 2012
5:45 pm

must be new math 106-83 in 11 years is17.18 games a year. hOW MANY OF THESE WERE HOME GAMES I GOT SCREW OUT OF?

Desert Dawg

March 12th, 2012
5:48 pm

The UGA secondary better be ready for Mizzou’s 5 star WR Dorial Green-Beckham. The kid powered his Basketball team to the Missouri State Final’s (it lost) He is a very gifited player. Big (6′5″) Strong and Fast. You had better wrap up against this kid. Go Dawgs!!

Spanky

March 12th, 2012
5:54 pm

Thanks Chip! Any word on how the O-Line is progressing? BTW- thanks for deterring the trolls!

Spanky

March 12th, 2012
5:56 pm

Desert Dawg- Agreed, but they’re gonna need someone to get it to him! U can already bet that Mitchell will be covering him like All-State! We are in good hands! LOL

Nick & Les on a conference call

March 12th, 2012
6:06 pm

That is great news about the contract.

T

March 12th, 2012
6:09 pm

Another arrest? When will the Fulmer be permanently housed at Georgia?

Ladies & Gentlemen...the Alabama Crimson Tide

March 12th, 2012
6:12 pm

hahahahahahahaha

Beast from the East

March 12th, 2012
6:14 pm

“Another arrest? When will the Fulmer be permanently housed at Georgia?”

The answer is never when teams like Auburn (last year) and TCU (this year) keep breaking records in the points race for the “highly” coveted Fulmer Cup. We’ve tried like heck down in Gainesville to get the “high” score but smoking weed just doesn’t earn you enough points…LOL!

Ladies & Gentlemen...the Alabama Crimson Tide

March 12th, 2012
6:15 pm

Hey Spanky — what are you asking Towers for?
Call the Clarke Co Jail House.

hahahahaha

Dap01

March 12th, 2012
6:15 pm

T; Ask your mom.

Michael Adams

March 12th, 2012
6:26 pm

Well, well, well. I am not sure what the obsession has been with Branden Smith. By all accounts, he is too short and small to be a top DB. Not sure why he even submitted his name to the NFL draft advisory board. He is too small to tackle big SEC receivers (much less NFL receivers) and he consistently gets out jumped. See SC game last season. Great position, but could not knock the ball away from Jefferies. Of all the DB’s he is one least needed. He is the last of smaller Willie M pre-Lakatos/Grantham recuits. Just too small. Other OC’s look for him on the field and attack him with their bigger guys.

Signal Mtn Dawg

March 12th, 2012
6:28 pm

Congratulations to CMR and CTG on the well deserved contracts.
Here is a list on how UGA stacks up against the major SEC teams over the last 10 years.

LSU: 105-27, 4 SEC WEST titles, 3 SEC titles, 2 NC
UGA: 98-34, 4 SEC East titles, 2 SEC titles, 0 NC
Florida: 95-36, 3 SEC East titles, 2 SEC titles, 2 NC
Auburn: 94-35, 2 SEC West titles, 2 SEC titles, 1 NC
Alabama: 91-39, 2 SEC West titles, 1 SEC Title, 2 NC
Arkansas: 77-48, 2 SEC West titles, 0 SEC titles – 0 NC
Tennessee: 75-52, 2 SEC East titles, 0 SEC titles, 0 NC
USCe: 71-54, 1 SEC East title, 0 SEC titles, 0 NC

What is missing is a NC. We are close!
Programs go through down cycles for many reasons – and UGA is working out of the brutal down cycle and is positioned well for 2012 and 2013.

Should be exciting to see how this program improves over the 2011 season.

GATA!

Spanky

March 12th, 2012
6:28 pm

“Hey Spanky — what are you asking Towers for?
Call the Clarke Co Jail House.”

What? I never asked about tree killers!! Keep it up, toilet paper! Karma is a b***h,…or a tornado!

Who Me?

March 12th, 2012
6:28 pm

Nobody is mentioning that hire out of Penn State on the S&C staff but here’s a link to read more:
http://www.blackshoediaries.com/2012/1/20/2721543/strength-and-conditioning-coach-john-thomas-out-at-penn-state

Not exactly a ringing endorsement but my guess is the price was right….

Duh!!!

March 12th, 2012
6:30 pm

LMAO! Wow, spanky!

Year of the DAWG

March 12th, 2012
6:31 pm

Maby we could stay out of trouble. If they would let Richt pray with is team. Some might get born again. Who knows what would happen it would be big I bet.

LeftCoastDawg

March 12th, 2012
6:32 pm

Did I miss an article about Branden Smith being suspended or was it just assumed that he is suspended because of the arrest?

Spanky

March 12th, 2012
6:33 pm

Who Me?- yeah, but did you see who we got for speed coach? Alot of top college and pro guys frequent his camps!! Nice!

Duh!!!- sorry, but Bama trolls should join their own! He had it comin!

Chip Towers

March 12th, 2012
6:34 pm

LeftcoastDawg: Marijuana offenses carry mandatory 1-game suspension, or 10 percent of competition dates, per UGA policy.

What the Heck?

March 12th, 2012
6:38 pm

I agree the new strength coach is being down played. There must be a long time connection with someone. Not sure why UGA would touch anything from Penn State at this point. Dissapointed to say the least. The return of the Matt Drills seems like an easy way out with the breakup of the strength coache from this past year. Anyone that gets hired by an NFL strength program must have been doing something right. UGA should have been looking in the direction of someone that trains professional atheletes, not a PE teacher taking attendance every day. Or someone from one of the specialized training centers that combine players train at prior to the draft.

Math Major

March 12th, 2012
6:40 pm

10 percent of 11 regular season games is more than one game. So if the suspension isn’t for 2 games, it isn’t 10 percent of competition dates. Everyone on-board with that ?

realist

March 12th, 2012
6:41 pm

LSU lost two qb’s and some defensive players, Bama lost their RB and Two wide receivers and some key defensive players. UGA lost a CB and a TE that they didnt use and that’s it. They have literally their whole team coming back. No position on the field for them is young with exception to the OL, but even the OL may be an upgrade from last year. With the weak schedule that they have, they should win the entire SEC, not just the East, and play for a NC. If they dont make it to the NC game this year, they never will, and UGA needs to really consider finding them a new HC. There are no excuses this year, and dont start saying your missing CB’s because that shouldnt stop you. This is their year or never

Moobs Johnson

March 12th, 2012
6:48 pm

Richt’s extension is the best thing to happen… for it’s rivals. No fire in his belly and no discipline in his players on or off the field. Coach MediocRe

Preston

March 12th, 2012
6:50 pm

“He is 106-38 in 11 seasons at UGA” was copied and pasted from the article. Learn to read people.

sc fan

March 12th, 2012
6:51 pm

Thank you for richts’ new contract!

Michael Adams

March 12th, 2012
6:51 pm

Signal – it’s an all or nothing year (2012) for Softie. He has to run the table becuase 2013 has Clem, Ala, Mizzou, SC, LSU, FLA, AUB & GT all chomping at the bit to send tan-man out the door with a kick in the butt. Our defense will be depleted, our QB moving on to the pros, and our DC packing it up and moving back to the NFL. In my eyes, we’re getting ready to cycle down. Your stats are impressive – thank you for compiling – but they also reflect the mediocrity Richt has taken us to – equals to Tenn, SC & Ark.

being a hater is whack

March 12th, 2012
6:52 pm

He should miss 1 full game and a quarter right?

Ladies & Gentlemen...the Alabama Crimson Tide

March 12th, 2012
6:54 pm

What happened to that lifetime contract we were all promised?

Signal Mtn Dawg

March 12th, 2012
6:58 pm

@ Moobs johnson 6:48 post.

Look at my 6:28 post – SEC records by teams over the last 10 years.
Admit that 2009 and 2010 were down years and UGA needed rebuilding – but these things happen. LSU was ready to run out Les Miles a few years ago.

By the way – which school do you root for?

Valdosta Cat

March 12th, 2012
7:03 pm

I’ve stated before that Malcolm Mitchell is just as good on defense as he is on offense. Can’t wait to see him on defense again. I’ll make one more bold statement……..This guy is better than AJ Green. As a matter of fact, he may prove to be as good as that former Tennessee superstar ala Eric Berry.

Signal Mtn Dawg

March 12th, 2012
7:10 pm

@ Michael Adams 6:51 post – hear what you are saying – but we have recruited extremely well the last few years and building depth.

Alabama had to replace 10 starters off the defense 2 years ago and went 10-3 -then won a NC in 2011.

All of the other schools we are playing are turning players as well.

Ray Drew will not start in 2012 – but will start in 2013.
D Swann is not considered a starter in 2012 – but is being groomed for 2013.
If Murray splits for the NFL – Ramsy, Lemay, Mason will be ready.
Our OLine looks to be building QUALITY depth and we have a real good OL coach.

2013 looks to be more of a challange – but as a fan – love the big games!
Bring it on.

ugab

March 12th, 2012
7:13 pm

Do not expect a NC under MR.. Corner back position was already thin, before Comming and the lil fast, pot smoking cb got sunspended.. ???? It is the same crap every year with MR and Company.. Good to hear TG is getting another contract ext…The offense was already hurtn with a weak OL. Mitchell will have to work hard this off season. Same ole sht diff, season

Maxhen

March 12th, 2012
7:14 pm

What’s the word on Justin Scott-Wesley? haven’t heard much about him in a while.

ugab

March 12th, 2012
7:14 pm

Murray is not a NFL QB.. Too short.. Not accurate.

ugab

March 12th, 2012
7:20 pm

Valdosta Cat??? Mitchell is not better than AJ Green!!! Do not forget the TD pass Mitchell dropped in the LSU game…Mitchell is good, but not great.. Mitchell did impress his 1st season.. I do not belive Mitchell has the hands that Green has…..Mitchell needs to improve on his pass catching skills…. AJ was a natural.. How about tellin Mitchell to start Jugglin.. It worked for AJ

ugab

March 12th, 2012
7:22 pm

I would say UGA has a weed problem with the players. There is some good green up there in those mountain. Lol

7576DAWG

March 12th, 2012
7:26 pm

Getting Conley healthy with help make the lose of Mitchell go down better. I hope that we get a LOT more consistent play from our tailback’s this year, that’s the bigger issue than Mitchell moving to defense.

Taco Meat

March 12th, 2012
7:26 pm

Good for Ken Malcome. Hopefully he’ll carry this work ethic into spring and compete for playing time in the fall.

Signal Mtn Dawg

March 12th, 2012
7:27 pm

@ realist – LSU losing their starter QB might be the best thing for that program.

Agree that 2012 had great potential for the DAWGS.
4 Key games to get back to the dome:
1. MO in Columbia – could be a tougher game than many expect.
2. USCe in Columbia, SC – will be a very tough game to win.
3. WLOCP – always a challenge.
4.@ Auburn – too much weird history with this series.
We should beat Ole Miss, KY, Vandy and TN.

SEC Title game will be against LSU/ALABAMA and either will be favored against us.

Valdosta Cat

March 12th, 2012
7:30 pm

@ugab…..three words…….you will see.

Bait-N-Switch

March 12th, 2012
7:42 pm

Wonder if Michael Carvell will write an article on how upfront Saban was with Mitchell during recruiting, in telling MM that he would be a Pro @ Corner, and @ Bama. Saint Richt told the kid he was a WR… OOPS! Now, which of the 2 coaches were ’straight’ with the kid? The 1 that currently OWNS the SEC.