Malcolm Mitchell has been one of my favorite players to follow. Coming in as a true freshman in 2011 he was highly recruited with stars and top X player all over the place. Interestingly, Mitchell played a lot of cornerback in High School, but was quickly sought after to play WR with his insano speed and his record breaking High School numbers. He had a solid 2011 Freshman year ranking 4th in the SEC in receiving, and doing that missing 3 games. And that's where we get to the curious part. Mitchell caught a deep pass against Tennessee that he pulled his hamstring on as he hit the afterburners to run through the ball (one of my favorite traits of him) that was slightly overthrown. He finished out the year ok, but that hammy seemed to be an issue for a while.
As we roll into 2012, we had what seemed to be the entire DB corps suspended and The Grantham asked Coach Bobo if he could borrow Mitchell. Mitchell had played CB in HS, but the majority of us fans said "oh, please don't get Mitchell hurt playing two ways." The experiment mostly broke even - he did ok on both sides of the ball but not great. Mitchell helped the team in a tight spot but didn't play two ways at a high level we would hope for, and it seemed to hurt his catching game a little. Plus he was the return man. In 2012 we found out Mitchell only has one speed - go. He would run every ball out of the end zone on kick returns no matter what. Mitchell was all over the field with 5 tackles against Vandy, a fumble recovery against Florida Atlantic, and numerous games with decent receiving yardage. But let's back up a minute, and get to that curious part. Mitchell sat out the opener against Buffalo with an ankle injury. This really led me to wonder how well he took care of himself but more so why he needed to be used all over the field seemingly not maximizing one position. I wanted a fully healthy Mitchell. And that fear was recognized last Sat against Clemson.
Mitchell hurt himself celebrating Todd Gurley's TD. Turns out, Mark Richt had a team mate do the same thing when Richt was in school, and I found there have been numerous celebration injuries through the years. Oh lady luck you fickle mistress. So, Mitchell is out for the year with the torn ACL which will certainly mean he will be around in 2014 rather than go to the draft early this year, which was highly probable. Mitchell was on a billion preseason watch lists, and with his playing focus being strictly on playing wide out, I was pretty excited for this year. But it's not to be. Thomas Davis, who has gone through 3 ACL surgeries in the NFL (ESPN even did a spot on Davis), apparently contacted Mitchell to give some advice. That's a great guy to listen to. And that brings us to a somewhat different look at Mitchell going forward.
Upfront, I absolutely do not wish Mitchell to be hurt. I hate it for him. This was going to be his year. Now, things being how they are, I couldn't help but wonder if this is a chance for Mitchell to rest his body for a year and get fully healthy. He has been such a star athlete for so long, and has had an injury bug every season of some sort. Apparently he was even a little gimpy in camp this year. So the question is, has Malcolm Mitchell over trained and may need the rest? Because although his heart maybe hurting, he can get fully healed up, in a proper time table rather than an accelerated one, and have a great year in 2014. For the team, he is going to be a great asset with a new starting QB. In the meantime, Mitchell can also work on that degree, and I hope he hooks up with all the diet and exercise folks to get as smart on his body as he can. He's got to learn to take care of himself. I've never felt that Mitchell was 100%, at least most of the time, because I believe his coaches since 9th grade have all asked a whole lot of his super star speed.
It's not what Mitchell or I want, but I think he can take this year and use it to his advantage. I hope he does. He has two outstanding abilities as a receiver plus his speed that make him a rarity. He instinctively puts himself between the defender and the ball "working his man" and he accelerates through a reception and stays in stride making him really hard to defend and adding to yards after catch. He is a tremendous athlete and speed demon. He has a great team heart; he is always the guy down in the end zone after a TD. Malcolm, I am sorry for this year, but I think you can turn this lemon into lemonade, get fully healthy, and get a bonus year with your friend Keith Marshall. Hang in there and