March 1, 2012

Notes: Mitchell welcomes challenge

The following question was posed to Malcolm Mitchell Thursday during a sit-down with Georgia beat writers: Which position coach will you report to when the Bulldogs open spring practice on March 20?

"I don't know yet, we'll have to see," the rising sophomore laughed while giving his response.

"I've been working on defense a little bit, so if that does happen, what role I'll play," he continued. "In talking to Coach (Todd) Grantham, I'll just have to wait and see what the final decision is going to be."

No, we're not talking about a permanent switch here.

Mitchell, who caught 45 passes for 655 yards and four touchdowns as a true freshman, said he'll still be playing offense.

"Oh yeah, definitely, no matter what," he said, although he's anxious to show that he's still got the skills that made him the nation's top-ranked cornerback according to Rivals when he came out of Valdosta High just over a year ago.

"I'm real excited. I want to do it; it's not just something that popped up," said Mitchell, who spoke of a desire to perhaps play some cornerback back during practice for the Outback Bowl, although it wasn't until after returning to Athens that he spoke about the possibility with head coach Mark Richt.

"I actually approached then. Right after we came back from the MSU game, from our week off I went to Coach Richt and talked to him," Mitchell said. "He said it wouldn't be a bad idea."

Mitchell understands he'll get every opportunity to show what he can do once spring practice begins.

"They're going to let me try it, maybe, I really don't know," he said. "Depending on how that goes, that will lead on to how I prepare in the summer to get ready for the season."

How much defense Mitchell ultimately plays remains to be seen.

When asked if he would be categorized a receiver who plays cornerback or a cornerback who plays offense, Mitchell shrugged that he wasn't sure.

"I have no idea. Honestly, I've just left it to their (coaches) hands," Mitchell said. "That's a decision they're going to have to make. I just want the opportunity to be able to do so. Coach Richt said he will figure out a way if it's necessary."

Of course, Georgia has shown the penchant for letting versatile athletes like Mitchell play two positions before.

Both Brandon Boykin and Branden Smith saw time on offense and defense last fall, although one of the more famous two-way performers in Bulldog history was former All-American Champ Bailey, who averaged over 100 reps per game his final season in Athens.

"Yeah, I heard about that," said Mitchell, his eyes lighting up.

"I'd want 101," he continued. "Of course, no one can be like Champ Bailey, but I'd like the opportunity to do a little of the things he did."

That's not all.

Mitchell said he would welcome the opportunity to return both kicks and punts, ala Boykin, if coaches will give him the opportunity.

"I will put in the work to make sure I'm physically able to withstand it all. If I get the opportunity, I will take advantage of it," he said. "I want to do it all if they let me."

One of the nation's more highly recruited athletes his senior year, Mitchell said different schools recruited him to do different things.

"A lot of schools wanted me to play DB, Georgia gave me the option of both. They really let me decide and when it came down it," he said. "I thought I'd be satisfied with catching touchdowns, but the more I played the game, the more I wanted to do both. So if I would have been full-time defense going to any school, I would have wanted to play offense. If I was playing just offense, I'd have wanted to play defense. I've got the hunger to do both."

Fullback for Samuel?

Last week, Richt hinted that rising senior Richard Samuel might be a candidate for some looks at fullback this fall.

Thursday, Samuel said that hasn't officially been decided.

"When I talk to Coach Richt and Coach (Bryan) McClendon, they tell me I'm strictly a tailback," Samuel said. "There's not going to be a switch or anything."

Not that Samuel, who said he weighs 235 pounds, would be entirely against the idea.

"It would kind of depend," he said. "It depends exactly on what they'd be using me for."

Lynch impressed with Gates

No, nothing's official, but tight end Arthur Lynch said he could certainly see rising junior Kenarious Gates fill the left tackle role left vacant due to the graduation of Cordy Glenn.

"When I judge linemen, I think about how they can move in space. We were doing mat drills and Kenarious was running and doing footwork (drills) with the tight ends," Lynch said. "You would have thought he was just an overgrown tight end. You would have been 'Oh my God, this guy can move.'"

Gates, who has practiced at left tackle before, started eight games at left guard for the Bulldogs last fall.

"The guy is 325 pounds, 6-foot-5," Lynch said. "I played hoops with him the other day and I kept telling myself there's no way a guy this big can move and shoot like that. He's scary athletically."

Mitchell wants a rematch

Mitchell joked that yes, freshman Keith Marshall beat him in the 40-yard dash recently, winning two out of three times.

But according to Mitchell, it wouldn't happen again.

"I'm going to let him soak in his little glory right now," Mitchell said. "He's working hard, he's a good player, but it won't happen again."

Mitchell said he and some other teammates could possibly hold another race with Marshall and other team members to determine just who the fastest Bulldog on the 2012 squad is.

"We're trying to get a race to see who is the fastest on the team. I've been talking to Branden (Smith) about it. Let's run the 40 and see what happens," Mitchell said. "Me, him, Blake Sailors is really fast, T.K. (Tavarres King) wants to run … anybody who thinks they can run, come on out there."

Mitchell was asked about Justin Scott-Wesley, the state of Georgia champion in the 100 meter dash with a time of 10.35.

"I'll give it to my man - he's the 100 champ," Mitchell said. "After he gets about 60, I don't think anyone can hold on to him, but for 40, I think I'll take him."

This and that

Speaking of Scott-Wesley, quarterback Aaron Murray believes the redshirt freshman is ready to make an impact this fall. "I don't know if you can get any faster than what he is, but he looks smoother with his routes, which I think will be a big thing for him," Murray said of Scott-Wesley, who takes part in passing drills with Murray and the other receivers in between his practices with the Bulldog track team. … Mitchell said the ongoing mat drills have been just as tough as you might expect. "We had it yesterday and I was hurting, but that's what it is supposed to do. It's supposed to challenge you. It's supposed to challenge your mindset and will-power." Mat drills have run each Wednesday for the past month. They conclude next week before UGA goes on spring break. … As far as spring break, Murray said between 30 and 40 Bulldogs will head to Key West for the week-long getaway. There's just one caveat. "There will no Tweeting, no pictures," said Murray. "I might have everyone put 'em in a bag once we get down there." … When asked if had recovered from New England's loss to New York in the Super Bowl, Lynch, a die-hard fan of anything Boston said "That was a low point in my life. I needed two weeks of consoling. But I bounced back after that."