MOBILE, Ala. — Malcolm Mitchell is brutally honest about the missed opportunities that used to haunt him during his playing days in Athens, Ga. for the Bulldogs. The former Georgia receiver had to work hard to make that mentality a thing of the past.
Mitchell ran to the end zone on UGA’s first touchdown of the 2013 season, a 75-yard touchdown run by Todd Gurley that was only worth six points on the scoreboard, but cost Mitchell an entire season. He jumped to celebrate and came down wrong on his right knee and tore his ACL. During his rehab process, he lamented about the fateful mishap.
During that season of getting back to the field, Mitchell asked ‘What if?’ on many occasions. What if he hadn’t jumped to celebrate Gurley’s score? What if he hadn’t come down fractionally wrong? He spent much of the healing process fixing his mind, while doctors and rehab specialists helped him mend his knee.
“By this point it won’t help me, it just hurts me,” Mitchell said about letting go of the mental anguish the missed season caused him. “So I just let it go. It’s reality for me, regardless of whatever could have been accomplished if the injury didn’t happen; because it did.”
After 85 combined receptions during his freshman and sophomore years combined, instead of breaking out in 2013, he sat out … and then gingerly put up 31 grabs in 2014 in eight games. It wasn’t until this past season that he had his best year of 58 catches and five touchdowns after 865 yards. He expected a lot more out of his four seasons on campus — with the injury rehab it was five … another way his college career went awry.
Now healthy, he’s looking to show NFL teams that the upside he brought to UGA as a highly touted four-star prospect can now be delivered at the pro level. “That’s the plan,” Mitchell said.
It’s more like a mantra for the next three months that lie in front of him prior to the NFL draft.
“I understand that I have to show them exactly what I can do,” said Mitchell of the pre-draft process. “If I don’t do that, I’ll stay right where I am now. But if I go out there every day and give it my all, show out how well I can perform to the best of my ability, I can live with that.”
Mitchell started that process Tuesday at Fairhope Municipal Stadium during the South team’s first practice. He grabbed nearly everything thrown his way, and made one particularly spectacular grab in traffic that netted the offense big yardage. He looked extremely sharp in one-on-one drills and emerged as the go-to receiver on the South roster.
Just like his mentality about the injury he sustained in 2013 has forced Mitchell to grow as a person, he knows just one day of “showing out” isn’t enough. What’s on tap for Wednesday?
“I would like to create more space,” said Mitchell. “That’s something tomorrow I’ll work on, yards after the catch and moves after the catch; getting upfield after the catch, stuff like that.”
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