ATHENS, Ga. -- Weeks before two promising cornerbacks were dismissed from the team, star receiver Malcolm Mitchell went to Mark Richt with an idea.
Wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell is excited about having a chance to line up on both sides of the ball in 2012.
Even back then, Mitchell wanted to play some in the defensive secondary.
"Then he said, 'It wouldn't be a bad idea,'" Mitchell said Thursday. "But the incident that happened here when we lost a couple of corners (Chris Sanders and Nick Marshall), that just made it more to think about. But I did it before I knew anything about them."
Mitchell isn't quite sure exactly how this idea going to work out, but he knows this: "I don't want to come off the field."
That goal, of late, has led him to begin working out recently with the defensive backs to prepare for a shot this spring at cornerback, the position he was being recruited by many teams to play before opting to try wide receiver during his first season at UGA.
"I'm real excited," Mitchell said. "It's something that I want to do, not something that just popped up. ... I will put in the work to make sure I'll be able to physically withstand it all. If I get the opportunity I'll definitely take advantage of it."
There are still plenty of questions surrounding this development.
To answer one of them, Mitchell is clear that he wants to try defense. He's also clear that he'll be "definitely still over there" on offense.
That is good news for Mike Bobo and company. As a true freshman, Mitchell wasn't just a good wide receiver. He was perhaps the best one on Georgia's team, totaling 45 catches for 665 receiving yards, numbers that were second only to Tavarres King (47-705) and probably would have been ahead of King had Mitchell not missed three games in mid-season with a hamstring injury.
As a true freshman, Mitchell caught 45 passes for 665 receiving yards and four touchdowns.
Perhaps because of Mitchell's clear value on offense, Richt has seemed lukewarm in the past about the idea of Mitchell trying defense. But the head coach did concede recently that "we're going to experiment with that a little bit and see how much he can handle learning some cornerback."
But the move makes sense, given UGA's lack of depth at cornerback -- especially with Sanders Commings suspended for the first two games -- and relative wealth of talent at wide receiver.
Thinking ahead to the NFL, Mitchell still thinks he could wind up as a defensive back prospect at the next level, saying, "I feel some teams -- if I get an opportunity to go to the NFL -- they'll be trying to decide which way to play, because I feel like I'll go after it hard and be able to perform great at both areas."
For now, Mitchell envisions his role perhaps being like former UGA star Champ Bailey, contributing as a receiver, cornerback and in special teams.
"No one could ever be like Champ Bailey," Mitchell said. "He was a great player here, but I'd like the opportunity to try to do a little bit of the things he did. ... My main thing is to build up the endurance, because I think at the weight I am I'll be able to take it and dish it out.
"The thing about it is my endurance right now will have to change. When I get tired, I've just got to put it in my mind that I've got to go."
Mitchell says he has gained about five pounds this offseason and is up to about 192.
"I've been working on defense a little bit," Mitchell said, "trying to figure out if that does happen what role I'll play. Talking to Coach (Todd) Grantham, we just have to wait and see what final decision Coach Richt is going to make. During spring practice, they're going to let me do, let me try it. I really don't know. Depending on how that goes, that will lead on to what I do in the summer to prepare for the season."
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