December 27, 2011

New role for Mitchell?



TAMPA, Fla. - Could Malcolm Mitchell be the next Georgia football player to see action on both sides of the line of scrimmage?

Perhaps, he could.

Tuesday, Mitchell conceded he wouldn't mind.

"I wouldn't mind it happening," Mitchell said before practice Tuesday at the University of Tampa. "I'd just have to talk to the coaches. I don't know much about it now. If it's an area they think I can help, I would love to play it."

There's no doubt it's a position he could play. Mitchell was the nation's top -ranked high school cornerback his senior year according to Rivals.com.

The former Valdosta High star said the subject has been broached by coaches.

"Mostly it's just been teasing around with the defensive coaches," Mitchell said. "Right now it's nothing serious, but I'd probably be able to do both."

Head coach Mark Richt said he wouldn't be opposed to giving a shot to Mitchell, who finished third on the team in receiving with 38 catches for 614 yards and five touchdowns, despite missing three games with a bad hamstring that he suffered against Tennessee.

"If I think that it will help us win, he can function and do that, it would be fine," Richt said. "When we have guys play a little bit both ways we do try to focus on the one position year one and if they've got enough of a comfort level knowing what to do, and we can begin to share a little bit, I wouldn't be against it, whatever it takes to help Georgia win."

Richt made it clear, however, that Mitchell would not be changing positions and wide receiver would remain his primary spot on the field.

"I don't want to make a bigger story than it is," Richt said. "Like I said, if it helps us win, we'll do it, how much and all that kind of thing … we've got some pretty good DBs here. I don't know if he can beat those guys out."

Richt said Mitchell wouldn't forsake wide receiver for cornerback full time.

"No, I don't think he'd want to do that," Richt said. "He enjoys playing receiver and making plays for us."

Mitchell is also enjoying being back at his former home.

Although he was born in Valdosta, Mitchell lived in Tampa from age 3 to 11 before moving back to Valdosta with his mother where he lived before moving to Athens last June.

It wasn't long after Mitchell's return to Valdosta, that he soon got stuck with a nickname he still carries today - "Tampa."

"A coach in Valdosta gave that to me," Mitchell laughed. "He didn't know my first name, but he knew I was from Tampa, so he just started calling me that."

The name stuck.

"A lot of players call me that," said Mitchell, who as a youngster used to take field trips to Raymond James Stadium, site of Monday's Outback Bowl against Michigan State (ABC, 1 p.m.). "Hopefully some people still remember when I played here."

Richt said Mitchell has certainly lived up to his billing.

"He started out great. From what I was hearing from the guys, they were telling me all summer that this was someone who was really going to help me out," Richt said. "I remember a (Brandon) Boykin quote saying he might be best wide receiver and defensive back that we've got. Now, he might have been being a little facetious, but we knew he had a lot of talent."

But Mitchell hasn't relied on talent alone. Being mentally tough has also been a key.

"As long as you get the mental part down, it shows on the field," Mitchell said. "It makes things easier and it slows the game down. I don't think you ever stop learning."