ATHENS, Ga. -- The possible Malcolm Mitchell experiment at cornerback is no longer possible nor an experiment.
Because of disciplinary issues with Georgia’s presumed senior starting cornerbacks Sanders Commings and Branden Smith, Mitchell will move full-time from receiver to cornerback when the Bulldogs start spring practice next week.
“This spring, he’s going to work almost exclusively on defense,” Georgia coach Mark Richt confirmed Monday.
Mitchell was one of Georgia’s breakout offensive stars last season, ranking second on the team with 655 receiving yards, but the Bulldogs’ cornerback depth could be messy in the early games.
Commings is suspended for the first two games for his role in a domestic dispute in downtown Athens last month. Smith was arrested on misdemeanor marijuana possession charges in Alabama late Sunday night and could face a one- or two-game suspension as a result.
That would leave sophomore Damian Swann and redshirt Devin Bowman as the top two cornerbacks, with others like Blake Sailors and incoming freshman Sheldon Dawson ranking among the other possibilities.
Mitchell, however, is an intriguing candidate after having been recruited to several major programs as a defensive back, not a receiver.
“We all know he’s an outstanding receiver, but he’s got some tremendous skills as a defensive back as well,” Richt said. “It’s already been established that he’s going to help us on the defensive side of the ball. Our goal is for him to help us on both sides of the ball.”
For the first two games -- against Buffalo and Missouri -- Mitchell will play defense almost exclusively, Richt said. After that, he is not sure.
“I feel like early on we’re going to have to have him help at corner and then once Sanders comes back in the fold, then I could see where the time that he spends on offense may increase,” Richt said. “Up to then, there may be a little something here and there, but I think he’s got to be ready to play a full game at defensive back, at least through Game 2 and then after that we’ll see.”