published Thursday, September 22nd, 2011

Georgia freshman receiver Malcolm Mitchell off to a good start

Georgia freshman receiver Malcolm Mitchell catches a pass in a recent game.
Georgia freshman receiver Malcolm Mitchell catches a pass in a recent game.
Photo by Contributed Photo.

STARTING QUICKLY

Georgia's Malcolm Mitchell is off to the fastest three-game start of any receiver who signed under Mark Richt. Some of the notables:

PLAYER/REC/YDS/TDs

Malcolm Mitchell / 14 / 159 / 2

A.J. Green / 8 / 141 / 1

Mohamed Massaquoi / 4 / 86 / 0

Sean Bailey / 2 / 26 / 0

Fred Gibson / 0 / 0 / 0

ATHENS, Ga. — The new kid, whatever his name, is working out well at Georgia.

Before coach Mark Richt and offensive coordinator Mike Bobo began heaping daily praise on freshman receiver Malcolm Mitchell, the 6-foot-1, 184-pounder from Valdosta figured he needed to make a good first impression on somebody else. So he showed up for his first June workout hoping to influence the one who would be throwing it his way.

"I remember the first time I went out there and threw passes with him," quarterback Aaron Murray said. "I called Coach Bobo and was like, 'Who is this kid? There is a guy out here who is pretty good.' He told me it was Malcolm, so we worked all summer."

Mitchell smiled when told of Murray's recounting, because that was definitely the intention.

"Coming in as a freshman, you've got to make a name for yourself quick," he said, "and the best way to do that is working with the starting quarterback and making him like you. I think I did pretty good with that."

In three games, Mitchell has compiled a team-leading 14 receptions for 159 yards and two touchdowns. It's the quickest start for any Bulldogs receiver since 1999 and Terrence Edwards, who hauled in 21 catches for 340 yards and four scores in his first three games before going on to become the top receiver in SEC history in career yardage.

Mitchell will make his third start Saturday when the Bulldogs visit Ole Miss.

"Malcom has got a lot of ability and has worked extremely hard at perfecting his craft," Bobo said. "He didn't flinch early on when we put him in competitive situations in practice, and he's done the same thing in the games. I think he'll only get better and will become a big-play receiver for us."

Said Richt: "Anybody who can be as productive as he's been to this point with a lot of guys on scholarship here at receiver must be pretty doggone good."

Mitchell dropped a pass during the opening 35-21 loss to Boise State in Atlanta but got his first score on a 51-yard reception with 10:15 remaining. His SEC debut two weeks ago against visiting South Carolina produced five catches for 52 yards, and he enjoyed the feasting on Coastal Carolina last week with six receptions for 43 yards and a 7-yard score.

"I would say the biggest surprise I've encountered is just how good other teams are," he said. "You always think the best about this team, of course, but then you go up against another team that's just as good. Coming from high school, you get used to your team being like 50 points better."

Mitchell was rated by Rivals.com last winter as the No. 1 cornerback nationally, while ESPN.com pegged him as the No. 7 receiver. He decided to play receiver in college after setting a Valdosta single-season record with 77 catches for 1,419 yards and seven touchdowns and chose Georgia over Alabama.

Apparently, Murray was oblivious to a lot of that.

"I don't really keep up with recruiting," Murray said. "I had heard of his name, but I found out pretty quick that he was someone I needed to get to know really well."

Odds and ends

Ole Miss offensive coordinator David Lee said this week that to simplify things he has removed 30 percent of the plays. ... Georgia punter Drew Butler led the nation in 2009 with a 48.1-yard average, while Rebels counterpart Tyler Campbell was No. 1 last season at 46.4. ... Georgia junior Shawn Williams, who has started at safety and at inside linebacker this season, practiced Wednesday at safety. ... Bulldogs sophomore guard Chris Burnette tweaked his knee in Wednesday's practice and his status for Saturday is unknown. ... Georgia redshirt freshman guard Kolton Houston has yet to play this season because of an NCAA eligibility issue, Richt said. ... Rebels coach Houston Nutt on some people framing Saturday as the "Hot Seat Bowl": "Hey, if that's what they want to talk about, then I feel like that's pretty good company to be in, especially with Mark Richt."

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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