UGA notes: Malcolm Mitchell could be next two-way player

TAMPA — Cornerbacks Brandon Boykin and Branden Smith made names for themselves this season playing offense and defense. Malcolm Mitchell thinks he might be able to make a similar impact next season.

Georgia’s dynamic freshman wide receiver said there have been some casual, preliminary conversations about him playing cornerback some next season. And it sounds like it’s something he would be up for.

“It’s another opportunity to make more plays,” said Mitchell, who leads the Bulldogs in receiving yards with 614. “I wouldn’t mind it happening. But that’s just something I’m going to have to sit down and talk to the coaches about. I don’t know too much about it right now. If that’s an area that they feel like I could help in, I would love to play it.”

Mitchell actually first made a name for himself at Valdosta High as a defensive back. He was ranked among the best in the country after his junior year. But he became an elite prospect on offense when he was switched to wide receiver full time as a senior and piled up more 1,400 yards receiving.

“If I think that it will help us win and he can function and do that, I’d be for it,” Georgia coach Mark Richt said. “We have guys play a little bit both ways. We do try to focus on the one position Year One and, if they’ve got enough of a comfort level knowing what to do, then we can begin to share a little bit. I wouldn’t be against it, as long as he’s helping Georgia win.”

Richt said Boykin told him while the Bulldogs were having volunteer workouts last summer that Mitchell “might be the best receiver and DB we’ve got.” But regardless of how good Mitchell may look on defense, Richt doesn’t see him becoming a full-time player there.

“I don’t think that would happen,” Richt said. “I don’t think he’d want to do that. I think he’s enjoying playing receiver and making plays on offense.

Richt added: “I don’t want it to be a bigger story than it is. Somebody just asked me the question. Who knows? Like I said, if it’s going to help us win, we’ll do it. But how much and all that kind of thing, we’ve got some pretty good DBs around here. I don’t know if he can beat those guys out.”

Marshall among standouts

Speaking of good defensive backs, Richt identified freshman Nick Marshall as one of the Bulldogs’ reserves who could make an impact in the future.

“Nick’s really been getting after it at the cornerback position,” Richt said. “He’s been very difficult for anybody to shake in one-on-ones and pass skel and scout-team 11-on-11, that type of thing. He’s caught my eye. He’s a guy that’s a lot more ready today than he was a couple of months ago.”

Georgia is going to lose Boykin to graduation, and Smith, a junior, is considering an early jump to the NFL. If Smith leaves, it would leave Sanders Commings as the only cornerback with any significant experience. Freshman Damian Swann and redshirt sophomore Jordan Love are backups this season. Freshmen Chris Sanders and Devin Bowman were recruited to play the position.

Injury updates

Punter Drew Butler returned to practice Tuesday for the first time since spraining his left (non-kicking) ankle Dec. 10, when he slipped wearing tuxedo shoes before the Senior Gala. “It wasn’t really that big of a deal,” Butler said. “It was mainly for precautionary reasons. We wanted to be 100 percent for the Tampa trip, and that’s exactly what happened. So I’m ready to go.”

Defensive end DeAngelo Tyson (ankle) was not. He sat out Tuesday’s workout, but is expected to practice before the week ends.

Etc.

Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity said Tuesday he’s still awaiting word from the SEC office about the Bulldogs’ 2012 football schedule. Preliminary reports have Georgia dropping Alabama, playing at Missouri in the second week and facing South Carolina in October. ... McGarity said Richt’s contract extension should be finalized “at some point after we get back.” ... The Bulldogs practiced for two hours in full pads Tuesday morning at the University of Tampa’s Pepin Stadium. It’s normally a soccer field. ... Georgia players visited children at St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital on Tuesday afternoon.