February 16, 2012

Looking ahead: CB

The pickings are starting to get slim at cornerback for Georgia, which can ill-afford any more attrition before this fall's season-opener against Buffalo.

Wednesday's news that starter Sanders Commings was being suspended for the Bulldogs' first two games, following his January arrest for domestic/simple battery, has put the position in a precarious state from a depth perspective.

The Bulldogs walked off the field at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla. already knowing that they would be without the services of graduating senior Brandon Boykin, but that number has obviously since grown.

First, it was Jordan Love, who transferred to Towson State, then came the news that Nick Marshall and Chris Sanders had been dismissed from the team for a violation of team rules.

Commings' arrest and subsequent suspension has since put further strain on the situation, one which will no doubt cause secondary coach Scott Lakatos some sleepless nights.

So what will the Bulldogs do?

On paper, Georgia doesn't have many choices.

When the Bulldogs are in their base 3-4, rising senior Branden Smith and sophomore Damian Swann project to be the starters at short and wide corner, respectively. Redshirt freshman Devin Bowman figures to get his share of reps as well, particularly when Georgia goes to its nickel package, which last season was just over 60 percent of the time.

Incoming freshmen Sheldon Dawson will be put on a fast-track, too.

What other options are there?

Sophomore Malcolm Mitchell is potentially one.

"I wouldn't mind it happening," Mitchell said back during bowl practice in 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 just before the Outback Bowl. "Right now it's nothing serious, but I'd probably be able to do both."

Head coach Mark Richt has said he wouldn't be opposed to giving a shot to Mitchell, who finished tied for second on the team in receiving with 45 catches for 665 yards and four 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 in late December. "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 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."

Other players could potentially make moves to supplement the depth as well.

One who could perhaps cross-train is rising sophomore Corey Moore. At 6-foot-2 and 205 pounds, it's believed Moore is athletic enough to play both roles, much in the fashion Commings has done for the Bulldogs the previous two years.