published Wednesday, September 19th, 2012

Georgia's Malcolm Mitchell may start playing more offense

Georgia sophomore Malcolm Mitchell (26) recovered a fumble last week against Florida Atlantic as a cornerback and had a 49-yard catch as a receiver.
Georgia sophomore Malcolm Mitchell (26) recovered a fumble last week against Florida Atlantic as a cornerback and had a 49-yard catch as a receiver.
Photo by Staff File Photo.

ATHENS, Ga. — Georgia has opened with five defensive backs in each of its first three games, but it hasn't been the same starting five.

Former Ridgeland High cornerback Devin Bowman started the first game against Buffalo before being replaced by Malcolm Mitchell, who missed the opener with an ankle sprain. Former walk-on Connor Norman started the first two games at safety but was supplanted last Saturday by Sanders Commings, who came off a suspension.

The same five who started last week -- Commings, Mitchell, Branden Smith, Damian Swann and Shawn Williams -- could start again Saturday when the Bulldogs host Vanderbilt.

"We'll be charged up," Commings said Tuesday. "We're going to remember last year. Vandy's a good team, but they're not us."

Georgia's starting secondary should change again whenever All-America safety Bacarri Rambo returns from his suspension, and then the biggest question becomes what to do with Mitchell. The 6-foot-1, 192-pound sophomore led the Bulldogs last season with 60.5 receiving yards a game and had a 49-yard catch last Saturday.

"Malcolm will definitely stay with the defense as far as being ready to play," Bulldogs coach Mark Richt explained. "I imagine he still will play, but his offensive reps will increase, and he'll probably start to spend some meeting time with the offense as well. I'm thinking about trying to find a way to split time with him if we can manage it.

"I think he's in good condition, and I know he's smart enough to understand what's going on with both sides of the ball."

Swiping a recruit

Georgia freshman outside linebacker Josh Dawson will be the only player Saturday who committed to both teams. The 6-4, 250-pounder from the Atlanta suburb of Tucker committed to James Franklin and the Commodores in June 2011 but visited Georgia in November and switched right before signing day.

"I think we offered him after he was already a commit to see if there was interest there, and there was," Richt said. "So we recruited him and he made his visit and really liked it. Before it was over, he said, 'Georgia,' and we were happy about that."

Dawson had 1.5 tackles for loss against Florida Atlantic but has been limited this week with a shoulder injury.

Odds and ends

Bulldogs outside linebacker Jarvis Jones (groin) practiced Tuesday in a regular jersey and said he is "good to go" for Saturday. ... Georgia and Vanderbilt will play for the 73rd time, and the only SEC teams the Bulldogs have played more are Auburn (115 meetings) and Florida (90). ... If left guard Dallas Lee (ankle) can't play this week, Richt said Mark Beard would start at left tackle and Kenarious Gates would move from left tackle to left guard. ... Vanderbilt signed six offensive linemen in February, including Barrett Gouger from Baylor School, but the Commodores have yet to play any of them this season. ... Bulldogs junior quarterback Aaron Murray was among 11 Bowl Subdivision players named Tuesday to the Allstate Good Works Team . ... Georgia backup right tackle Watts Dantzler, a sophomore from Dalton, hasn't played since spraining his ankle in the opener, but Richt said he has a chance this week. ... Richt on playing a third straight night game: "I know when you play at night it usually means you're having a good season. When you're struggling, you play at noon."

about David Paschall...

David Paschall is a sports writer for the Times Free Press. He started at the Chattanooga Free Press in 1990 and was part of the Times Free Press when the paper started in 1999. David covers University of Georgia football, as well as SEC football recruiting, SEC basketball, Chattanooga Lookouts baseball and other sports stories. He is a Chattanooga native and graduate of the Baylor School and Auburn University. David has received numerous honors for ...

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