published Friday, July 22nd, 2011

Mitchell, other freshmen impress Georgia veterans

HOOVER, Ala. -- Although most eyes are on tailback Isaiah Crowell entering Georgia's preseason camp, the freshman already turning heads is Malcolm Mitchell.

The 6-foot-1, 187-pounder from Valdosta was rated the No. 7 receiver nationally last winter by ESPN and the No. 1 cornerback by Rivals.com. Mitchell will begin his Bulldogs career as a receiver for sophomore quarterback Aaron Murray, but senior cornerback Brandon Boykin wouldn't mind the newcomer aiding the secondary as well.

"I guard him a lot every day, and he's progressing really great," Boykin said Thursday. "He's just really versatile, fast, long and smooth. I remember one day when Aaron threw a post across the middle and he snagged it like A.J. [Green] in the [2009] South Carolina game.

"Well, it was kind of similar. He hasn't even worked with Coach [Tony] Ball on his technique and he's making plays."

Mitchell was among the headliners of the "Dream Team" signing class, which included Crowell, tight end Jay Rome and outside linebacker Ray Drew. Murray said the freshmen are "every bit as advertised" and believes seven or eight could play right away.

"Malcom Mitchell, I think, could start for anyone in the country right now," Murray said. "That kid is special."

Samuel at the top

Coach Mark Richt said redshirt junior Richard Samuel, who switched from inside linebacker last week, will begin camp as the No. 1 tailback. Samuel, a tailback during the 2008-09 seasons, will be challenged by redshirt junior Carlton Thomas, redshirt freshman Ken Malcome and Crowell.

Thomas will miss the Sept. 3 opener against Boise State with a one-game suspension for violating team rules.

Early commitment

Last Friday's "Dawg Night" at Sanford Stadium yielded five commitments but only one [tackle John Theus] for the 2012 class. The Bulldogs got a trio for 2013 and one for 2014 -- tailback Stanley Williams from Winder, Ga.

"We don't offer many guys that young," Richt said. "I think the last guy we offered that early was Cornelius Washington, who had been showing up to every camp since he was a peanut and was tall and fast going into 10th grade."

Odds and ends

Boykin and Murray displayed the unique Nike uniforms for the opener during a team meeting Wednesday, but Richt and his players have been asked by the company not to describe them until they are revealed closer to the game. "They're pretty different," Boykin said. "I've never seen anything like them." ... Senior center Ben Jones on growing up 40 miles away from Birmingham in Centreville, a town of roughly 5,000: "We got a Super Wal-Mart my senior year and school almost closed down because all the kids were wanting to walk around in it."

about David Paschall...

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 ...

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