Just three and a half months after junior wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell tore his ACL while celebrating the first touchdown of the UGA football season at Clemson, he was seen running on the Woodruff Practice Fields on Friday while the rest of his team continued to prepare for the Gator Bowl against Nebraska.
These days, the timetable for recovery for such an injury completely varies athlete by athlete. What use to take a solid year, with an addition year of getting back to normal, now seems to take more like nine to eleven months until a player sees game action again. Credit can be given to advances in medicine, surgery, and rehab for putting players like Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson back on top his game in just nine short months following his tear of his ACL back in 2011.
So to see Mitchell running at what appeared to be a very good pace – perhaps not full speed quite yet – just three and a half months after his injury, is certainly a great sign for Dawg fans.
One can assume that had Mitchell stayed healthy in 2013, and had a season he is capable of having while returning to play wide receiver full time after playing some defense to start 2012, that an NFL jump may have been on his agenda this coming spring. But with the injury, the required rehab, and perhaps the need to prove himself again at his position, Mitchell will return to an already potent wide receiving corps in 2014 to assist the transition from quarterback Aaron Murray to Hutson Mason for an entire season. And that is not a bad thing for Mason, while may be a bad thing for opposing SEC cornerbacks next fall.
As far as Spring Practice 2014, Mitchell will still only be 6 months removed from his injury. The media may anticipate seeing Mitchell going through some drills, and more sideline running, but it may only be reasonable to think he will be held out of G-Day on April 12th and all other scrimmages until fall camp.
Still, seeing Mitchell making progress is a very positive sign of things to come between the hedges when the Dawgs welcome Clemson to Athens on August 30th, 2014, seeking revenge for not only losing to the Tigers in 2013, but also losing Mitchell on their field.
PHOTO: Logan Booker/BI
FWIW, I'm one of those who doesn't assume Mitchell would be NFL ready. I suppose it's possible. But Mitchell is not yet a great college receiver, much less close to a NFL-calibre WR.
He does have enough raw skills and athleticism to be attractive to a team if he's sufficiently developed. But that's the point. He still has a long way to go to be really good at his position.
So let's hope that Mitchell does have the year we all want him to have next year. Even then, he might need another year at the position, and I suspect he certainly will if he wants to go high.
Mitchell doesn't have the size they want. His speed is OK, but not outstanding, at that level. So he's going to have to have something extra. And that something extra is becoming better at the fundamentals of the position .. route running, exploding out of breaks, snatching the ball, and more .. and all the little things that go with it. He'll need to stand out in those areas. And he doesn't have those skills yet.
Given he'll get a very late start to the 2014 season because of his injury, I don't think the NFL is necessarily in the picture this year.
@ecdawg_BI lets not CELEBRATE it lol.
I think your comments are worth a lot and very accurate. With the exception of AJ, when was the last time we had a receiver that has made that transition successfully early. Durham was a senior, TK was a senior, etc. MM would be foolish not to stay as long as possible.
Good point. And thanks.
I thought Marlon Brown would surprise some folks in the pros if he is able to stay healthy, and he has a solid rookie season for Baltimore.
I think Malcolm Mitchell will be a solid pro receiver on somebody's depth chart somewhere. The kicker is can he stay healthy to realize his full potential.
I would love for him to have a full year where he stays healthy and see what he can do, and I agree with you. I think it would help his draft status and NFL career if he stayed for his senior year after next season. If he can show he can stay healthy and be productive, it couldn't do any harm that is for sure. NFL scouts have him projected to go between the late 2nd round to the 4th round right now.
While Mitchell doesn't have 4.3 speed, he is explosive off the LOS, and he does a very good job getting open even against physical and press coverages. There are a lot of fast guys that can run, but the receivers than can get open against press and physical coverage and have magnets for hands are the guys that succeed in the NFL.