ATHENS — Malcolm Mitchell has been busting it. And somehow he has managed to get in a little football work, too.
Georgia’s former star receiver and beloved self-made author worked out for NFL scouts at UGA’s Pro Day on Wednesday and he trained in Pensacola, Fla., for the first couple of months of the year before that. In the meantime, his burgeoning marketing enterprise has continued to grow and that part of his life will be on display this weekend.
Mitchell will be at Oconee Veterans Park in Watkinsville, Ga., Saturday morning to sign copies of his children’s book, “The Magician’s Hat,” for little leaguers and raise money for his Read With Malcolm initiative. After that he’ll throw out the ceremonial first pitch for Oconee County Little League’s opening day ceremonies.
Immediately after that he’ll hustle down to Lilburn, Ga., to join teammate Keith Marshall to conduct the Malcolm Mitchell & Keith Marshall ESM Football Camp at Bryson Park. On Sunday from 1 to 2:30 p.m., Mitchell will join Marshall, Leonard Floyd, Jordan Jenkins and Jake Ganus at Dave & Buster’s in Lawrenceville, Ga., for an autograph and memorabilia signing sponsored by SportsAddiction.net.
The week before that, Mitchell made appearances in Augusta, Ga., at three schools, a hospital, an educational conference and a business retreat. His goal is to get a copy of his book into every first-grade classroom in the state.
“I don’t sleep much,” Mitchell joked after his three-hour workout session Wednesday morning at UGA’s football complex. “My life has been interesting the past couple of months. Football is always primary, though.”
Indeed, Mitchell estimated he dedicates eight to 10 hours a day working on his football skills, whether it be strength and conditioning, passing and catching, film study or conducting interviews with potential NFL suitors. And his football skills are starting to garner Mitchell more and more attention.
In particular, Mitchell is commanding more attention as a potential defensive back. In fact, Mitchell — who left Georgia as one of the school’s most productive receivers of all time — spent the last half-hour of his pro day workout doing DB drills for scouts. SEE VIDEO BELOW
“That’s been part of the process ever since the combine,” said Mitchell, who finished his injury-interrupted college career with 174 catches for 2,350 receiving yards and 16 TDs. “I opened it up there and I’d be happy to work at that position and will be happy to play it if somebody drafts me at it.”
They might. Atlanta Falcons head coach Dan Quinn was at Wednesday’s workout and made a point to talk to Mitchell afterward. Quinn said he complimented Mitchell on his willingness to explore his defensive options and told him he was impressed with his work on that side of the ball.
“I want to play in the NFL,” Mitchell said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s at DB, receiver, special teams. It’s just about what’s going to be my best spot in the long run. If somebody thinks cornerback, I’ll take that. If somebody thinks receiver I’ll take that also.”
Mitchell played both sides of the ball at Georgia. As a sophomore in 2012, Mitchell moved to cornerback for the first half of the season and started several games, including an SEC road win at Missouri. He finished that season with 12 tackles, three pass breakups and a fumble recovery. He also had 40 catches for 572 yards and 4 touchdowns that season and returned 27 punts and kickoffs for another 417 yards.
Defense actually might be a better fit for Mitchell in the NFL. At 6-feet, 198 pounds, he doesn’t have what scouts characterize as “plus-size” for an NFL receiver on the next level and his speed (4.45 seconds at the combine) is not considered exceptional for offense at that level.
But his size would not be considered a detriment on the defensive side of the ball. Meanwhile, NFL teams often employ as many as six defensive backs on the field at once to defend increasingly spread-out, pass-oriented offenses. They’re desperate for anyone who can win a one-on-one matchup with receivers.
Mitchell said he has spoken to about five teams specifically about playing defensive back. But he said the interest in him as a receiver “out-weighs DB by a wide margin.”
In the meantime, no matter what happens, Mitchell has endeared himself to the Georgia people. His dedication to encouraging young people to read early in life garnered him national recognition and national awards, such as being included on the Allstate Good Works team.
Regardless of what happens with his professional football career, Mitchell is putting as much time and energy as he can muster into building the ReadWithMalcom foundation.
“Right now it’s just a lot of work,” he said with a laugh. “I do all the stuff I can as far as the book goes. That’s what I enjoy.”
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