Mitchell’s services are in demand for UGA coaches

semerson@macon.comMarch 27, 2012 

ATHENS -- Mike Bobo started shaking his head before the question was even finished. That tends to happen these days when Malcolm Mitchell’s name comes up around Georgia offensive coaches.

“No comment, I don’t even wanna talk about that,” Bobo said.

Bobo was laughing, but his face also was turning a shade of red.

Defensive coordinator Todd Grantham, on the other hand, adopted a bit of a poker face.

“Never,” Grantham said when asked if there had been a lobbying battle for the services of the athletic Mitchell, a cornerback and receiver.

And if there was a battle royale among coaches, would Grantham admit it?

“No,” Grantham said, still smiling.

For now, Mitchell is a cornerback who might return to receiver before the season starts. Last year, he was the team’s leader in receiving yards as a freshman, but attrition in the secondary caused head coach Mark Richt to move Mitchell to cornerback -- his original position as a recruit -- for the spring.

But from speaking to coaches, it seems likelier that Mitchell would settle into a full-time role on offense and part-time on defense.

Or at least that’s the decision Richt would make if he took into account the feelings of his coaches. Receivers coach Tony Ball said he expected to get Mitchell back in the fall.

“Yes, yes we do,” Ball said, before adding that Mitchell has the ability to play both ways.

But in a follow-up, Ball was blunt when asked if a player could be full-time on both sides of the ball.

“To be good at both of them would be difficult, number one, because of the volume (of plays). The volume would be too much,” Ball said. “We will determine where he will best be able to help us as we get closer and closer to the season. It all depends on the personnel we’ll have on both sides of the ball. That decision will be made. But to say he can play 100-plus plays a game, no, that’s a lot. Not only physically but mentally.”

When Mitchell was in high school at Valdosta, one of his main recruiters at Georgia was Bobo.

“It is what it is right now. He has to do what’s best for the team right now and help the defense,” Bobo said. “But it’s kind of back to recruiting; in my mind I’m recruiting the crap out of him.”

The defensive coaches were a bit more magnanimous, perhaps because they could afford to be. Eventually, once starting cornerbacks Sanders Commings (two-game suspension) and Branden Smith (marijuana arrest, no suspension announced yet) are available, the team will have more depth at cornerback.

So defensive backs coach Scott Lakatos said he would fine with only having Mitchell on a part-time basis.

“If he can help us and he can help us score points, I’ve got no problem with that,” Lakatos said.

But Grantham evidently would love to have him full-time.

“I think you’ve gotta do what’s best for your team,” Grantham said. “His skill set is such that he can be a really dynamic corner. I mean he can be really good.”

Samuel works at fullback

Richard Samuel got first-team snaps at fullback Tuesday, as the offensive coaches contemplate whether to give him an expanded role there.

Samuel, at a listed 243 pounds, is the team’s biggest tailback, a position where there is plenty of depth. Meanwhile the team lost last year’s starting fullback, Bruce Figgins, to graduation.

“We’re gonna talk about it a little bit there,” Bobo said. “We got some depth issues there and tight end, and sometimes those positions are interchangable, so we’re trying to train another guy for that position.”

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