Malcolm Mitchell has no problem being out of the limelight this spring.
Mitchell was the most scrutinized player in Georgia's football program this time last year, when he was frequently interviewed about making the adjustment from receiver to cornerback. The 6-foot-1, 192-pound junior now is working solely at receiver again, with talk of becoming a two-way talent tabled for the foreseeable future.
"I think this is really good for me, because it lets me actually focus to get better at something," Mitchell said. "I loved the opportunity that I had last year, but this year I get a chance to master the craft."
Which is a scary thought.
Mitchell already has provided plenty of memorable moments for the Bulldogs, most notably the 45-yard touchdown reception in last season's 17-9 surprise triumph over previously undefeated Florida in Jacksonville. He broke into the Southeastern Conference two years ago with 45 receptions for 665 yards and four touchdowns but missed three games with a hamstring pull.
Last season, Mitchell played cornerback through the first four games before receiver became his primary role. He finished with 40 catches for 572 yards and four scores.
Vanderbilt's Jordan Matthews, Texas A&M's Mike Evans and Alabama's Amari Cooper are the SEC's three returning receivers who had 1,000-yard seasons, while Donte Moncrief of Ole Miss fell just short with 979 yards. Mitchell wouldn't mind joining the conversation as one of the SEC's elite receivers.
"I feel like I'll have a chance to do something," he said. "I've just got to make it happen."
The Bulldogs worked out Friday afternoon for a little more than an hour in preparation for this morning's second scrimmage, with senior flanker Rantavious Wooten (illness) and junior linebacker Brandon Burrows (concussion) sitting out. Coach Mark Richt said his team focused on red-zone plays and the one-minute offense.
Friday's practice was the eighth of the spring.
"We had a shortened practice today to try and save some energy for the scrimmage," Richt said.
Georgia's offense essentially returns intact from a year ago, with the only notable departures being receivers Tavarres King and Marlon Brown. Chris Conley and Michael Bennett, who is recovering from ACL surgery, will team with Mitchell later this year to give the Bulldogs a trio of proven juniors.
They also are the leaders at their position, which is another aspect that is different for Mitchell this spring.
"I guess I'm stepping into that role regardless, and I've got to accept it," he said. "I think things have been going really good. I'm seeing a lot of players get better, and we're all just trying to move forward and build a team unity."
Contact David Paschall at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6524.
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 ...