'Whatever He Wants to Be'

ATHENS - A third of the way through Georgia's spring football practices, this much is clear: Malcolm Mitchell is turning heads on defense and missed sorely on offense.

"His skill-set is such that he can be a dynamic corner," defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said. "He can be really good."

The defense's gain is the offense's loss.

At least it is this spring because Mitchell hasn't taken a single snap on offense after leading the team in receiving yards as a freshman when he had 45 catches for 665 yards and four touchdowns.

Offensive coordinator Mike Bobo was in no mood to relive the meeting where it was decided he would lose the explosive playmaker.

"No comment. I don't even want to talk about it," Bobo said with a laugh. "It is what it is right now. He has to do what's best for the team and help the defense. It's kind of back to recruiting in my mind. I'm recruiting the crap out of him daily."

Asked if there's a lobbying battle among the coaches, Grantham said with a knowing grin: "Never."

Then again he said he wouldn't admit if there were.

Coach Mark Richt has said Mitchell will work in the secondary this spring and be needed at the position at least early in the season when cornerback Sanders Commings is suspended two games and cornerback Branden Smith is facing a suspension of at least one game after a possession of marijuana arrest.

Mitchell has "picked up things really well," Grantham said. "I think a little bit of it may be that he has guys around him that know, but if you compare how he's done relative to guys that are seniors now when they were first-year guys, I think he's done really well."

"He can be whatever he wants to be," secondary coach Scott Lakatos said.

Coach Ward in future?

Hines Ward was decked out like a coach Tuesday at Georgia's practice. He wore a black and white Georgia hat, a gray and red pullover and black and red shorts.

"We got the equipment guys to get him stuff," offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said.

The recently retired former Georgia star, a Super Bowl MVP receiver with the Pittsburgh Steelers, was in Athens because he wanted to spend a day with his friend and former teammate, Bobo, to see what coaching was like.

"He's just trying to see if that's something he wants to go into," Bobo said. "He's going to spend some time over here, a couple of days to see what all we do. Not just out there in practice, but to see, hey, what do you do out there in recruiting, kind of see if that's something he wants to do, kind of like when coaches come and visit."

Ward created a stir among Georgia fans when he told Atlanta's WXIA-TV earlier this year that he teases Richt about wanting to join his coaching staff.

"If he wants to hire me, hire me," Ward said. "That would be my ultimate dream job to come back and coach at the University of Georgia."

Asked if he would recommend Ward join the coaching profession, Bobo said: "My wife told me to tell him no."

Ward chatted with receiver Chris Conley early in practice. Bobo said a video from the 1996 Auburn game—a 56-49 Bulldogs win in four overtimes--was pulled up on YouTube on Tuesday.

"We were talking about a seam throw and how we used to run it so we found it and watched it," Bobo said.

Bobo said Ward might have blended in if he came out in a jersey.

"NCAA rules he could just stand and watch," Bobo said. "You wish you could have him out there and coach, but he can't do any of that stuff."

Samuel "in the mix" at fullback

Tailback Richard Samuel worked with the first-team at fullback on Tuesday, something that was bandied about as a possibility before spring practices.

Samuel is cross-training at the position, Bobo and running backs coach Bryan McClendon said.

"He's in the mix at both of those positions," McClendon said.

The 6-foot-2, 235-pound Samuel rushed for 240 yards and a touchdown last season after redshirting in 2010 as a linebacker, but could be needed more as a fullback where Zander Ogletree is the only player recruited on scholarship.

"We're going to talk about it a little bit," Bobo said. "We've got some depth issues there and tight end, and sometimes those positions are interchangeable. We're trying to train another guy for that position."

Georgia's top three tailbacks are Isaiah Crowell, Ken Malcome and Keith Marshall.

Cornelius Washington and Ray Drew are practicing extensively at defensive end, but Grantham isn't closing the door on them as outside linebackers.

"It's not a lot different than what they did last year, it's just more of," Grantham said. "They can help us by playing there because they've got some athletic ability, some inside pass rush and you're putting an athletic guy on the field."

Grantham said the arrival of incoming freshman outside linebackers Jordan Jenkins, Leonard Floyd, James Deloach, Josh Dawson and Josh Harvey-Clemons.

"Those guys are going to fill in and we kind of know that," Grantham said.

This and that

South Alabama, Akron and Memphis have inquired about former Georgia running back Carlton Thomas, who decided last week that he would transfer for his senior season. …Nose guard John Jenkins did not practice on Tuesday to attend to some academic responsbilities, defensive line coach Rodney Garner said. "In spring, you have that flexibility," he said. …Left tackle Kenarious Gates is the only offensive lineman who has separated himself at his positon, offensive line coach Will Friend said. Dallas Lee has taken first-team reps at center the last couple of practices…Receiver Rantavious Wooten remains sidelined with a pulled leg muscle. …Outside linebacker Sterling Bailey (foot surgery) won't practice this spring.

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