Richt makes it official: Mitchell stays on offense

semerson@macon.comDecember 18, 2012 

ATHENS - Mark Richt ended the potential offseason storyline with two words.

After Tuesday's bowl practice, the Georgia head coach was asked what Malcolm Mitchell's role will be next year.

"Wide Receiver," Richt said.

So no more cornerback?

"I doubt he plays any more corner," Richt said.

And that's that. No hemming and hawing, no talk of playing part-time on one side of the ball, or anything. Richt was quite definitive.

"I think he needs to play one position," Richt said.

This of course led to a flurry of typing and tweeting among reporters (this one included), which Richt laughed at.

"Man everyone's typing like mad now," he said. "Tweet it! Tweet it out. Go ahead, tweet it. Tweet! ... It's like a frenzy, it's like piranhas."

It was kind of a big deal, because just a day earlier both offensive coordinator Mike Bobo and defensive coordinator Todd Grantham were unsure of whether they would have Mitchell's full-time services. It wasn't entirely clear whether Richt had told them by Tuesday.

The indications were pointing to Mitchell staying on offense: He expressed a preference last Friday for receiver, where he finished this season and played all of 2011. But Grantham has been adamant that he thinks Mitchell can be a first-round pick talent at cornerback, where he played the first four games this year.

So what was Richt's thought process on keeping Mitchell at cornerback?

"If he's gonna be the best he can be, at either position, I think he needs to concentrate on just one of them. And receiver is where he's gonna be," Richt said.

Quarterback Aaron Murray, who may or may not be around in 2013, was asked about the news.

"I saw a tweet on that. I'm happy for Malcolm, because I've talked to him about it. I think he feels great about just being able to focus on one position. I know he wanted to think big and wanted to play offense and defense and special teams. But it's tough playing all those positions. I'm not saying he can't do it, because he probably is the best athlete on our team, and one of the best athletes in the country, and if he wanted to be a DB, if he had a whole offseason to do just that, I think he'd be great.

"But I definitely think he is more comfortable at offense. I think he enjoys playing offense. And I'm definitely happy he's back at offense, that's for sure."

Richt on Mason

Murray did not volunteer any new information on whether he plans to turn pro. That means the status of Hutson Mason, the top backup quarterback, remains in limbo.

All that is known is that Mason will redshirt this year: That decision was finalized with Georgia falling in the SEC championship game. If Murray returns for his senior year, then Mason will serve as his main backup again. If Murray leaves, Mason is the next man up.

"I think Hutson certainly deserves to play," Richt said. "I mean he's earned the right play. Managing that will be a whole other question. ... To sit here and try to say what all that's gonna look like, I don't wanna get into that."

Murray, by the way, was asked whether Mason and Mitchell would make a good tandem next year.

"You all kill me," Murray said, shaking his head and laughing.

Abry Jones returns

Senior defensive end Abry Jones, who had ankle surgery in November, still has a chance to finish his career on the field. Jones was listed as "limited" in Tuesday's practice, and was just running.

It was a very crowded injury list: Mitchell was limited with a strained groin, and inside linebacker Mike Gilliard was also limited with a hamstring strain. The following players were out of practice: Nose tackle John Jenkins (concussion), receiver Tavarres King (hamstring), running back Richard Samuel (shoulder joint sprain.)

Follow Seth Emerson at @sethemerson.

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