Hoover, Ala.–Malcolm Mitchell, Georgia’s senior wide receiver, is the perfect example of someone who took a weakness in his life and turned it into a strength.
Growing up in Valdosta, Ga., Mitchell struggled to read even into his high school years. Reading frustrated him. But he also knew that he had to improve if he wanted to go to college and realize his dream of playing college football.
So he worked. And he worked. And he worked. He went from being a tentative reader to a voracious reader. He began reading to children. He joined a local book club made up mostly of women between the ages of 40 to 60.
Mitchell, who hopes to bounce back this season after a host of injuries the past two years, has now written a children’s book “The Magician’s Hat” and brought a copy with him to Thursday’s SEC Media Days.
Ironically, Mitchell’s injuries at Georgia have given him more time to read and to write the book.
“Yeah but I hope some good comes from it,” said Mitchell. “My goal is for every child and parent to have access to it.”
Mitchell has had two tough years of injuries. In 2013 he suffered a knee injury in the first game with Clemson and was lost for the year. Last season he played in eight games but made only three starts. When Mitchell is healthy, he is Georgia’s best big-play threat at the wide receiver position.
“He’s a very good player and has made a lot of plays for us,” said Georgia coach Mark Richt. “We have a group of receivers who all lean on each other and Malcolm is a big part of that.”
When asked about Mitchell’s book and his love of reading, Richt could not help but smile.
“I’m proud of the guy. As a father you always want your children to grow, especially if they live in a sports culture,” said Richt. “You want them to be well-rounded.”
Some other news and notes from the last day of SEC Media Days:
**–The media predicted Georgia would win the SEC East while Alabama would win the SEC West this season. But the total votes, when calculated, had Auburn winning the SEC championship.
Georgia got 166 of 225 first-place votes to win the East while Tennessee was a distance second with 36 votes.
Auburn got 108 first place votes in the SEC West to Alabama’s 92, but the Crimson Tide totaled more points (1,405) than Auburn because it only had three votes for fourth place or lower.
In case you’re keeping score at home, only five times since 1992 has the media correctly predicted which team will win the SEC, including last year’s correct pick of Alabama.
**-The media’s pick of Georgia was another reminder that the Bulldogs have not won an SEC championship since 2005. Despite his average of 10 wins per season, there are members of the Bulldog Nation that are getting a little restless. When asked if he was aware of the criticism Richt said, with a smile, “I didn’t know I got criticism.”
Richt’s teams have made five trips to the SEC championship game (2002, 2003, 2005, 2011, 2012). “Our goal is to get to Atlanta every year,” said Richt. “We’ll keep banging away and we will get there again.”
**–Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze said that wide receiver Laquon Teadwell has recovered well from from his injury and he expects to be near full speed when the Rebels begin practice in August. Treadwell, a junior from Crete, Ill., missed the last four games of the 2014 season with a broken ankle suffered as he tried to score against Auburn. Ole Miss lost Treadwell and it also lost the game 35-31
Freeze also said there is “nothing to report” on left tackle Laremy Tunsil, who is part of an NCAA investigation over his recent contact with agents.
**–Les Miles, set to begin his 11th year at LSU, is not on the hot seat. But the fact remains that over the past four seasons the Tigers’ record in SEC play has gone from 8-0 to 6-2 to 5-3 to 4-4. That qualifies as a disturbing trend.
There is no mystery to this trend. LSU has been hit hard by junior defections to the draft the past three years and in the past two years its quarterback play has been historically bad. Junior Anthony Jennings completely only 48.9 percent of his passes last season when he started 12 of 13 games. Rising sophomore Brandon Harris got a start on the road against Auburn in the sixth game and struggled. He was not much of a factor the rest of the year.
Jennings has fallen behind his summer after his arrest with two other players on charges of simple burglary. Miles said Thursday that Jennings would soon be returning to the competition,
If LSU doesn’t get the quarterback position figured out, it’s going to be hard for the Tigers to contend in the SEC West.
“Our quarterback play will be better, legitimately better,” Miles said. “There’s been some things that we’ve done to kind of script and hone to make their skills and abilities more evident. So I think we’ll get really improved quarterback play.”