Updated: Georgia’s Malcolm Mitchell conflicted about future as ‘two-way’ player (with poll)

Adds comments from offensive coordinator Mike Bobo and defensive coordinator Todd Grantham . . .

Georgia's Malcolm Mitchell (26) continued to attend the Bulldogs' defensive meetings until the week of the Georgia Southern game. The question is whether he should attend them anymore going forward. (AJC photo by Bob Andres)

Georgia's Malcolm Mitchell (26) continued to attend the Bulldogs' defensive meetings until the week of the Georgia Southern game. The question is whether he should attend them anymore going forward. (AJC photo by Bob Andres)

ATHENS – Georgia’s Malcolm Mitchell is one conflicted football player.

With the regular season and final exams in the rear-view mirror and a bowl game still a ways down the road, Mitchell has been able to reflect some on the “Great Experiment” that the 2012 season was for him. He went through spring practice and into the season expecting to be a two-way player. He said what came to pass wasn’t exactly what he envisioned, but neither was it anything approaching a disappointment.

In the end, Mitchell played the first four games as a cornerback and the last nine as a wide receiver. He never truly played both in one game, save for an occasional offensive play when he was playing defense. By the fifth game he was essentially a full-time receiver who merely attended defensive meetings. By Game 10 he quit attending defensive meetings altogether.

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All that is in the past. It’s what to do in the future that has Mitchell confused at this point. And as the No. 7 Bulldogs prepare for a Jan. 1 date against Nebraska in the Capital One Bowl, Mitchell says he has no idea what the plan is.

“Nothing has been said about it, nothing has been brought up about it,” said Mitchell, who led the team in receptions with 40. “I’m loving what I’m doing now. I love what I did before. So whatever they want to do, it’s their choice. Whatever they need for the team.”

Mitchell stepped up for the Bulldogs when they needed him most. They were without two starting defensive backs — safety Bacarri Rambo for the first four games and cornerback Sanders Commings for the first two — due to disciplinary suspensions. The status of cornerback Branden Smith was unclear — also for disciplinary reasons –until preseason camp.

Mitchell, a 6-foot-1, 184-pound sophomore from Valdosta, started three of the first four games at cornerback while playing defense full time. He accounted for 12 tackles and 3 pass break-ups in that time. He also played an extremely limited number of offensive plays in the third and fourth games. He had a single catch in each, one for 49 yards and another for six.

After Commings and Rambo returned, Mitchell returned to playing offense full time. He had four catches against Tennessee and three against South Carolina before breaking loose for a career-best nine catches for 109 yards against Kentucky. He had the game-sealing touchdown catch in the fourth quarter against No. 2 Florida and became Aaron Murray’s go-to guy down the stretch. He finished with 572 yards and four touchdowns.

As for the two-way player distinction, Mitchell asks a good question: “When did I really do both this season?,” he said “I came in a ran one play and came out. I mean, is that really both ways?”

There’s a chance Georgia may need to tap into Mitchell’s versatility again next season. The Bulldogs lose their entire starting backfield to graduation.

There are candidates on campus to replace them and others on the way via recruiting. But what if the coaches deem Mitchell as a better alternative again?

“The possibilities are the same,” Mitchell said. “I still know the possibilities of doing it. I mean, it’s a huge opportunity to play both and I still stick to that. But is that something I want to continue to do? That’s something that just has to be figured out over time.”

Mitchell said he would need a more “stable” situation if he did it again. That is, how much he’d play each side would need to be more detailed up front.

Mitchell did make this declaration: He likes offense better. The ideal for him, he said, would be playing wide receiver full time while becoming a situational defensive player.

“If I had to pick between offense and defense, one or the other, I’m going to pick offense just because I love doing it,” he said. “Now if you say, can you do a little bit of offense and a little bit of defense? I want that. I don’t want to play full-time defense. I can make that statement. . . . I want to play what I’ve been playing because I love playing it.”

Offensive coordinator Mike Bobo swaid he doesn’t know what the plan is for Mitchell — “That’d be a question for Coach Richt, really; I couldn’t answer that” — but he has said from the outset he would prefer to have Mitchell as a full-time offensive player.

“I would, but we’ll do whatever we need to do as a football team,” Bobo said. “A lot of (Mitchell playing defense) had to do with our situation with suspensions on defense and depth. Hopefully that will be addressed and we can have him full time. But if Coach says he’s going to play both ways, he’s going to play both ways.”

Richt was unavailable for interviews on Monday.

Meanwhile, defensive coordinator Todd Grantham is taking the same tact, saying he’ll do “what’s best for the team.” But he did interject that he believes Mitchell’s up side as a full time defensive player could be through the roof.

“His length and his ability to play in tight coverage and his (ability to) transition allow him to play close to receivers and cover them,” Grantham said. “And he’s a physical guy who can tackle. All those things make him a premier corner. There’s no doubt in my mind he can be one of the best corners in the SEC.”

153 comments Add your comment

icedawg

December 17th, 2012
2:52 pm

Mitchell’s willingness to pay both ways says a lot about his flexibility and desire to help the team. He is definitely a very good receiver. Hopefully that is where his focus will be.

Baddawg

December 17th, 2012
2:53 pm

Bulldawg Charlie

December 17th, 2012
2:58 pm

We should ask GTBob. I hear he goes both ways.

JB

December 17th, 2012
2:59 pm

Dawgs have NINE DB’s committed coming in. Put him at WR FULL TIME please.

Sam

December 17th, 2012
3:00 pm

Just play wherever the coach tells you to play. If Mitchell doesn’t like that, perhaps he should transfer.

Bulldawg Charlie

December 17th, 2012
3:00 pm

It looks like Malcolm may be needed more on defense next year. But he seems to be more of a talent at WR. I blame Bobo.

Horned Frog

December 17th, 2012
3:02 pm

Since he is able to enter draft after next season, they need to play him mostly at position he’ll play in NFL…receiver.

Destin Dawg

December 17th, 2012
3:04 pm

DGD.. playing both ways will help in the NFL… Go Dawgs beat Nebraska !!!!

bill arp

December 17th, 2012
3:04 pm

He’ll be needed more at Corner, there’s no doubt about it. We’re still loaded at WR/FL. Even with T King and M Brown leaving. It’s a tough question….

I don’t think playing most of the time on offense and just coming in on situational defenses is an easy thing to do. I’d think it would be easier the other way around..

DawginLex

December 17th, 2012
3:07 pm

OFFENSE

WIDE RECEIVER

DIFFERENCE MAKER

BEAT FLORIDA

CASE CLOSED

SC Dawg

December 17th, 2012
3:07 pm

If the young guns at Corner are not ready t play SEC ball when the sason starts let him play both ways. In fact for G-Day let him do both.

DawginLex

December 17th, 2012
3:09 pm

NOTE:
Yesterday and today are prime examples of why we need an indoor practice facility.

Homer Gomer

December 17th, 2012
3:09 pm

Bulldawg Bob: I am ROFLMAO re: your comment abot GT Bob! Hilarious!

gary

December 17th, 2012
3:14 pm

Just keep him on the field. That much tallent should not be on the sideline for any play other than victory formation.

JB

December 17th, 2012
3:17 pm

Lex, seems like the Athletic Assoc. could borrow the money and make payments to build it with all the money they are saving on coach’s salaries ( excluding Grantham). We seem to collectively pay about a million less than the other “football schools” in the SEC.

Joey

December 17th, 2012
3:18 pm

Amazing that we have such a talented player, who could truely play on either side of the ball on Sundays in a couple yeats.

Hey MM, keep your skill sharp. It will only make your more valuable one day.

Go Dawgs.

DawginLex

December 17th, 2012
3:18 pm

We have plenty of money. Just build the thing

Joey

December 17th, 2012
3:19 pm

….both skills….

Joey

December 17th, 2012
3:21 pm

Hope Michael Bennent recovers. We missed him in all the big games.

Joey

December 17th, 2012
3:22 pm

Lex, what is your opinion on the state of Fox’s program?

WDE

December 17th, 2012
3:23 pm

Well he is a DGD stating he is willing to play where ever needed…let the coaches evaluate the talent next year and if he is needed at a position play him there.

Tobias Funke

December 17th, 2012
3:25 pm

Perhaps he should focus on wide receiver. IMO, he was terrible on defense.

After watching all the jaw jacking db Malcolm did this season, one must conclude that he believes stopping a wide reciver after 15 yards is a really great thing. Someone should tell him that a first down is ten yards.

Another thing, this guy is a great talent. With that being said, some coach has got to make it very clear that his obnoxious bufoonery on the field, AFTER THE PLAY is getting old. Let your play speak for itself.

How many unsportsman like conduct penalties did he have this season?

some sense

December 17th, 2012
3:32 pm

Why is conflict and complaining coming up now? This is stuff we’re not used to hearing from Athens.

midland Dog

December 17th, 2012
3:35 pm

I agree, since we haven’t had to go through a lot of coaches like some programs, and we aren’t accused of playing players like Auburn, we do have plenty of money, so build the new facility and let it impress a lot of recruits and benefit UGA! (3rd most prosperous sports program!)

midland Dog

December 17th, 2012
3:36 pm

Michael Bennett is a beast!

Chris Mike

December 17th, 2012
3:46 pm

Keep him on offense.Even though he is a pro size corner, I think he lacks the pure instint to play at the next level. At WR he is a bit under sized, but he can make every play that you need.

Kingdaddy

December 17th, 2012
3:50 pm

It’s not about him, it’s about team …

DawginLex

December 17th, 2012
3:52 pm

Joey

Mark Fox is done short of a miracle.

Year 4 in a watered down SEC and we won’t win 4 conference games.

We might get to 10 wins if we are lucky.

It’s time to go get a recruiter.

Go to Lexington and throw cash at Orlando Antiqua. He can flat our recruit, he will bring the dribble drive to Athens and we will be in the top 5 in the conference within 2 years.

Kingdaddy

December 17th, 2012
3:53 pm

He will excell no matter where you put h’m. Leave it to CMR …

Joey

December 17th, 2012
3:55 pm

Tobias, I’m pretty sure Mitchell’s only one was in Jax. And you should know lots of players on both sides could have gotten flagged that day – hell even one of UF’s coaches (S&C?) could have gotten one before the game.

I can’t stand the chest-beating stuff, but it definitely is part of the game today (thank the NFL) – I even saw a good bit of it from Bama in the SECCG.

That’s why I love it when guys like Jarvis Jones (and others) come along, make jaw-dropping plays, then go back to the huddle, or trot off the field, kinda like, “just doing my job.”

Vampire Bill

December 17th, 2012
4:03 pm

Doesn’t sound like he’s conflicted to me Chip, Says straight out what ever is best for the team. Good attitude and DGD

north georgia fan

December 17th, 2012
4:03 pm

Don’t limit the young man, didn’t seem to bother Champ Bailey.
Also, I like what he said: It’s just something that just has to be figured out over time.
I agree.

Joey

December 17th, 2012
4:04 pm

I thought it was taking too long, Lex. I really like Fox and was pulling for him, but I just can’t see where our team is improving. We gave Indiana and UCLA fits, but how can we keep losing to these little schools, over and over.

Plus, you know KCP will bolt after this season. Don’t blame him – he can practice his craft 8 hrs a day, instead of studying for class.

DawginLex

December 17th, 2012
4:08 pm

The only hope Fox has for right now is to do things he will never do

Play all the freshmen

Play 4 guards

Bench the Southern Conference talent like John Cannon

Press and trap and shoot 3’s like mad men

He will never abandon the triangle even though we don’t have the personnel to run it.

I like Fox too. He handles himself well. He is losing on the recruiting trail too much.

We need a recruiter more than an x’s and o’s guy

Jim

December 17th, 2012
4:08 pm

He should be thankful for as much playing time that he got. If his buddies has not screwed up and caused the need for him on defense he would have rotated in and out or not got on the field. On Offense he would not gotten the reps he didn’t if we didn’t pose two WRs. He also could be like Richard Samuel. Careful what you wish for.

G

December 17th, 2012
4:11 pm

This is a no brainer he is a special wr

Joey

December 17th, 2012
4:16 pm

Oh I agree. I wonder how many profesional players Phil Jackson jettisoned from his teams over the years who couldn’t pick up the triangle offense?

And Fox is trying to get 19 year olds to perfect it.

He better do something – in a hurry. I hope he does.

Finchdawg

December 17th, 2012
4:16 pm

Damian Swann is a starting CB, and he is definitely coming back. Dawgs aren’t losing both starting CBs since Branden Smith is a backup in the base defense.

DawginLex

December 17th, 2012
4:28 pm

Malcolm Mitchell has already had a great career GtBoob.

Your opinion is not wanted nor does it have any value.

We are all dumber for having read it.

You are awarded zero points

May God have mercy on your soul

:) :) :)

'94 UGA Alumni

December 17th, 2012
4:30 pm

He’s clearly a WR and needs to stay there. I think we’ll be OK at CB with Swann and Dawson and the JUCO’s we are bringing in.

Poor GT Bob, he just has no clue

December 17th, 2012
4:33 pm

NFL is FULL of UGA Bulldogs.

Jarvis Jones gives Muschamp nightmares

December 17th, 2012
4:34 pm

We are NOT losing both starting cornerbacks. Swann has started over Branden Smith the last few games at cornerback. Smith started to begin the season, but Swann was getting a good bit pof playing time in the second half of the year as a true sophomore. I prefer Mitchell as a receiver, but if we wants to play some defense, that’s fine with me.

Jarvis Jones gives Muschamp nightmares

December 17th, 2012
4:38 pm

I think Georgia will let Mitchell play wherever he wants, but since he prefers offense that’s probably going to be where he will focus his time. Swann is coming back and Dawson has the potential to earn the starting job next season at the other corner spot. Plus, we’ve got several commitments from players who play cornerback.

Jarvis Jones gives Muschamp nightmares

December 17th, 2012
4:43 pm

Prospects committed to Georgia in the secondary:

CB Brendan Langley 6-1
CB Reggie Wilkerson 5-11
CB Shaq Wiggins 5-9 (visiting other schools)
We have one more player who is wanting to play corner, but his name escapes me.

We also have committments from at least three wanting to play safety.

Contractor

December 17th, 2012
4:46 pm

Simple answer, play him on offense. He has AJ Green type moves and speed that make him the most fluid wide receiver on the team. Georgia can get anyone in there to help cover receivers and even get extra help to one side, but you can only have one man catch the ball and can’t give him help in any way. It’s really simple, because he’s proven to be a homerun hitter for Georgia.

NoMoreRawDeal

December 17th, 2012
4:46 pm

If he’s willing and able to play both ways – and I think he is – then why not use him on O and D?

Oh right, because his coachs are Mike Bobo and Mark Richt. So he’ll be underutilized at both positions.

DawginLex

December 17th, 2012
4:57 pm

40 catches is under utilized?

HMMMMM……………..

Joey

December 17th, 2012
4:59 pm

Sounds like you have all the answers, NoMoreRawDeal.

Put it on paper and send it to Mark Richt.

Richt will probably hire you immediately, what with all those big football ideas you got . . .

bosshawg

December 17th, 2012
5:12 pm

keep that attitude MM and you will go far team comes first everything else will take care of itself good luck man and go dawgs

a fan

December 17th, 2012
5:15 pm

What happen with Bobo and schools calling him about Head job? Did they get smart?