Spring Day 6: Mitchell works on offense

ATHENS, Ga. -- Mark Richt drew headlines after Thursday’s practice over a subject he mostly refused to discuss: reports concerning the ensuing suspensions of safety Bacarri Rambo and linebacker Alec Ogletree for failed drug tests.

Richt would not confirm anything related to those reports, but when responding to football-related questions, Georgia’s coach revealed a handful of interesting details.

* First of all, he said receiver-turned-cornerback Malcolm Mitchell chipped in on offense a bit in Thursday’s sixth practice of the spring. To this point, Mitchell had played exclusively on defense, where he will provide much-needed depth at cornerback while also trying to continue playing receiver.

“[We] tried to let Malcolm Mitchell get any time he was not losing a rep on defense, try to jump over there and get a little work on offense, which was good,” Richt said. “You could tell he was a little tired, but if he’s going to play both ways, he’s got to get used to being in condition for something like that. I thought he did a good job.”

* Richt said running back Richard Samuel first approached him about the possibility of playing fullback and that he will be given every opportunity to compete for a starting job at the position.

Samuel lined up at fullback during the early portions of several recent practices that were open to the media. He is part of a crowded competition at tailback, but could contribute at both backfield positions.

“Richard’s really the one who came to me about wanting to learn it. He knew we didn’t have a lot of depth there. But he asked me that, I don’t know, before spring break sometime,” Richt said. “I said, ‘Well, you’re in the same room with them. Every time Coach [Bryan] McClendon’s teaching a fullback, you might as well be listening and paying attention.’ You can’t teach tailback and fullback in the same breath, so I said, ‘Just make sure you’re paying attention and we’ll give you some reps there.’

“He’s big, he’s strong, he’s physical and he wants to do it. He just wants to help the team win. It’s the typical Richard Samuel line to me. He’s like, ‘Coach, I want to have a great senior year. I want to go in there and help the team win and if it means playing a little fullback, I’ll do that, too.’ ”

* Richt complimented rising senior Cornelius Washington for standout performances on the field this spring and for emerging as a team leader off of it.

Washington and Ray Drew are working as hybrid defensive end-outside linebackers this spring and Richt said Washington is taking to his new role.

“A lot of good things happen out there, but one guy in particular that’s just been showing up every day in my opinion is Cornelius Washington -- just really physical at the point and pretty dominant against the run and certainly is doing a good job rushing the passer as always,” Richt said. “But we’re really seeing a lot of good things from him.”

* Richt said freshman tailback Keith Marshall is not getting a break because he is one of the few newcomers on offense, along with fellow January enrollees Mark Beard and Faton Bauta. The five-star tailback has acquitted himself nicely, however.

“There’s so many things to learn in such a short amount of time, we’re really installing our offense at more of a veteran’s pace because most everybody is a veteran,” Richt said. “He’s one of the few guys along with Mark Beard and Faton that are here at the midyear. So those three guys are not really getting it spoonfed to them like you would if you’re a true freshman with the rest of the freshmen, but he knew that going in.

“He did a lot of studying beforehand, but he’s doing pretty good as far as assignments and I think he’s already shown us the really fine running skills that we anticipated him to have. He’s got a toughness about him, but he’s a young kid out there playing with a bunch of veterans, so it’s not easy for him I’m sure.”

* While Richt refused to discuss the situation with Ogletree and Rambo -- both players still lined up with the first-team defense in the media portion of Thursday’s practice -- he did discuss some of the Bulldogs’ other options at safety.

He said rising sophomore Corey Moore would most likely be their go-to option among the backup safeties.

“As I watch him, I see a guy that’s much more confident than he was as a true freshman, understands things a lot better,” Richt said. “He’s very tough and physical. He showed up strong for a high school kid, but now that he’s been with the program, been with Coach [Joe Tereshinski] and the strength staff, he is very solid, very strong. He’s lean, athletic and he’ll strike you, so I think he’s going to be ready.”

* He added that athletic incoming freshman Josh Harvey-Clemons might have some skills that would translate to safety, but the coaching staff views him as an outside linebacker in college. He reiterated a previous point that they plan to test the freshman as a red-zone receiver, as well.