ATHENS - Malcolm Mitchell's attitude about his position was consistent this year: Play me anywhere. Receiver, cornerback, special teams. And play as many downs as possible. Whatever.
But now Mitchell's position is more refined. The Georgia sophomore definitely wants a consistent plan, and would prefer it be centered on offense.
"I'd love to be stable - anywhere," Mitchell said. "If I'm going to do both, let me be stable in doing both. Let's have a set plan, let's do that where I can get better at both, if I'm going to do both. And if I'm going to do one or the other, let me be stable there, so I can get better. Because stability is the key."
Mitchell acknowledged there wasn't stability this year, but added that it wasn't the coaches fault. He moved back to receiver after the fourth week, but always had a foot in both units, practicing on defense once a week even after going back to receiver. And for all the grand talk about being a Champ Bailey-type two-way player, that never really happened.
"I always compare it to the business world," Mitchell said. "You know you have some companies that come in for a little while and after a couple years you don't know where they go, because they don't have any stability. I view football players and certain things they do the same way: Just being stable, and just knowing what I'm going to do."
This year it was too uncertain.
"Y'all asked me questions I didn't have the answer to," Mitchell said. "Not because I didn't know what I wanted to do. But because I didn't know what the team needed me to do."
Mitchell started the first four games at cornerback, where he practiced during spring practice and the preseason. He was moved to defense out of necessity, during an offseason when the secondary was racked by transfers, dismissals and suspensions. But when the suspensions were over, Mitchell immediately moved back to receiver. He finished the season with 40 catches for 572 yards and four touchdowns.
But he clearly remains one of the top weapons on offense. In fact he was the intended receiver on the ill-fated final pass of the SEC championship, which was tipped at the line.
"If I had to pick between offense and defense - you all might have asked me before - one or the other, I want to pick offense, just because I love doing it. And I love playing offense," Mitchell said. "Now if we're saying, can you do a little bit of offense and a little bit of defense, I want that. I don't want to play full-time defense. I can make that statement."
Defensive coordinator Todd Grantham has said that he thinks Mitchell can be a first-round pick as a cornerback. But Mitchell appears unswayed by that argument.
"The main key is that I talk to myself and know what I want to do. I hear a lot of comments that the defensive players make a lot more money than the offense. But if I really did that, do I truly love the game?" Mitchell said. "So it's all about what's going to make me happy the longest."
In retrospect, does Mitchell wish he had been at receiver from the start this season? Mitchell said no.
"I'm glad I got the experience," he said. "A lot of people tell me that I should have just stayed over there, but that's people that don't know the game, and don't understand what this team needed. So I was fine with it."
And next year will it be what the team needs? Well, the secondary only has Damian Swann coming back, so a guy that has started games at cornerback, which Mitchell did, would seem a possibility. But Mitchell points out his experience isn't close to the experience that's leaving the program in Sanders Commings and the safeties.
"So taking me over there wouldn't be good, just because I've done it for one or two games," Mitchell said. "If I'm keeping honest, I'm pretty sure another great player could come in and produce or do better than what I did."
Mitchell said he hasn't had any discussions with Grantham, offensive coordinator Mike Bobo or anybody about what next year will hold. Nothing has been said about it. But Mitchell is high on the ability of Sheldon Dawson, who saw some time at cornerback as a freshman, and thinks he could be a star.
By the way, Mitchell is pretty sure he would've been able to make that last catch against Alabama if it wasn't tipped.
"But everybody in the country won't say that," Mitchell said. "I'm pretty sure a seven-year-old would say he could've made it. Just because it didn't happen, the opportunity didn't come. You just gotta move on now."