- Edward Aschoff, ESPN Staff Writer
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Malcolm Mitchell just wants to stay on the field and play.
That's why Georgia's top receiver and the SEC's fourth-leading receiver in 2011 approached Bulldogs coach Mark Richt about getting a shot at cornerback this spring. In fact, he started talking about it during the week leading up to the Outback Bowl, but really got serious with his thoughts when he went to speak with Richt a week after the bowl game.
"It's something I want to do, not just something that just popped up," Mitchell said Thursday.
The original conversation with Richt ended with Mitchell's coach being intrigued, but not sold on the idea of his best offensive weapon taking some reps on the defensive side of the ball. After all, he was recruited to play either side while in high school, so Mitchell would catch on fast, but that's Richt's top skill player and taking reps away from him wouldn't be ideal.
However, Richt was swayed to give Mitchell a chance to become the reincarnation of Georgia great Champ Bailey after Georgia took so many hits to the corner position. Transfers, dismissals, the signing of just one defensive back in Georgia's 2012 recruiting class and the suspension of starter Sanders Commings meant the Bulldogs would begin the fall short-handed at cornerback.
Mitchell will get his chance this spring and believes that one way or the other a decision about the fall will likely come at the end of spring practice. It might take Mitchell a little time to regain his defensive legs, but he's excited for the opportunity because he wants to do more for his team in 2012.
"I don't want to come off the field," he said. "Everything I can possibly do I want to do it. I'll do it all if they let me."
One thing he's excited about on defense is being more physical ... as in he can't wait to start hitting people again, or as he puts it, he wants to "go after someone." He couldn't exactly do that on offense, except for a few blocks he threw in there at times, but he'll have a chance to lay a little lumber during some defensive reps this fall.
As for how those reps will be distributed, Mitchell isn't sure. If he is able to play corner, he assures he'll still play offense. Whether he'll play full time on either side won't be known until later in the process.
But will Mitchell be doing too much? He's thought about it. In high school he was worried that he was doing too much at times, but when he really sat and thought about his decision he figured he might as well use the ability he has to do more if it will help his team. Plus, he's been itching to play defense since arriving at Georgia.
He isn't worried about stuffing too much football on his plate because he believes he'll get in the proper physical and mental shape to withstand more plays.
"I'm not scared of the decision I made to go talk to [Richt] about it," Mitchell said. "It's something I care about and I really want to do. I feel if I put in enough time I can do it."
His confidence is obvious and when he was asked what his initial thoughts were when he heard Bailey would sometimes hit 100 plays in games as a two-way player, Mitchell didn't hesitate to deliver the perfect response.
"I want 101," he said.
3dSam Khan Jr.