- David Ching, ESPN Staff Writer
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Editor’s note: Each day between now and Georgia’s Capital One Bowl date with Nebraska, we will review the season for a key Bulldogs player and attempt to project what’s next. Today we’ll look at receiver/cornerback Malcolm Mitchell.
No. 26 Malcolm Mitchell
40 catches, 572 yards, 4 TDs, 12 tackles, 3 PBU, 1 FR
Role in 2012: Mitchell started the season with the idea that he would split time between receiver and cornerback, but played strictly on offense after the first few games, when injuries damaged Georgia’s receiver depth.
The good: Despite barely playing receiver in the first four games, Mitchell still leads the team with 40 receptions. He also handled himself adequately on defense -- despite never having previously played there in college -- when suspensions to seniors Bacarri Rambo and Sanders Commings forced him into the defensive starting lineup for three of the first four games. But Mitchell’s greatest value came on offense, where he remains one of the Bulldogs’ most explosive weapons.
The bad: Mitchell’s excessive energy and aggressiveness can sometimes get the best of him. Just before he caught the game-winning touchdown against Florida, Mitchell was flagged for a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty that caused coach Mark Richt to briefly take him out of the game. The confidence that he can make a big play at any time also created some shaky moments on special teams, when Mitchell made a handful of ill-advised attempts to return kickoffs and punts.
Crystal ball: Mitchell’s dual-threat role might continue next season, but don’t expect to see him leave the offensive side of the ball entirely. He wants to play receiver -- and he very well might be the Bulldogs’ best pass-catching option in 2013. He already has 1,237 receiving yards and eight touchdowns in his first two seasons and could push himself onto Georgia’s all-time receiving leaderboard by becoming the Bulldogs’ first option at his position next season.
12hSam Khan Jr.