Georgia’s Bennett, Mitchell reunited as starters
Add this to the long list of reasons Georgia’s Aaron Murray
returned for his senior season: He can look forward to a full
season of having two of his favorite receivers, Michael Bennett and
Malcolm Mitchell, playing together again.
It’s an opportunity Murray enjoyed for only one game in
Mitchell opened last season at cornerback before finally
returning to offense in the fifth game. Bennett was Georgia’s
leading receiver through five games before tearing up his right
knee in practice, ending his season.
Bennett is expected to join Mitchell as the starting receivers
when No. 5 Georgia opens at No. 8 Clemson next Saturday.
Bennett says he has made a full recovery from reconstructive
knee surgery. He isn’t even wearing a rubber sleeve on his knee in
Mitchell is Georgia’s leading returning receiver. A healthy
Bennett should help make up for the losses of Tavarres King, a
fifth-round pick by Denver, and Marlon Brown, who is in the Ravens’
”It’s exciting,” said Murray of Bennett’s return. ”He was one
of my favorite targets last year. He’s a big target and very
reliable. You know Mike is going to run his route the way he was
taught and I can trust he’s going to be there.”
Bennett (6-3, 205) had 24 catches for 345 yards and four
touchdowns, leading the team in each category, through five games.
He had two touchdown catches against Tennessee and had at least 70
yards receiving in four of his five games.
More importantly, Bennett was establishing himself as Murray’s
go-to receiver before tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his
Have the two re-established that chemistry?
”I think you’ve got to play games before you can really know,
but as far as practice is concerned it looks like they’re doing
just fine together,” coach Mark Richt said Friday.
Mitchell finished with 40 catches for 572 yards and four
touchdowns last season. The junior was a third-team pick on the
coaches’ All-SEC preseason team released this week.
Georgia also has tight end Arthur Lynch, receiver Chris Conley
and running backs Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall returning as top
targets for Murray.
Bennett said it’s not important that he reclaim bragging rights
as the Bulldogs’ leading receiver.
”You know, it was nice being the leading receiver but again, I
kind of stress that it doesn’t really matter to me,” Bennett said
Friday. ”What matters to me is winning games and being able to
catch the ball when it’s thrown my way. I know it’s going to be
thrown my way. It’s just a matter of getting the job done.”
Bennett said he used informal players’ workouts during the
summer to regain his confidence and didn’t feel he had any
remaining hurdles to clear during preseason drills. He said he has
had no setback with his knee and was slowed only by a tight
”He’s missed very little considering the surgery and what he’s
gone through,” Richt said. ”It’s pretty amazing, actually.”
Bennett has regained his teammates’ confidence.
”He’s got guts,” Lynch said. ”He’s got the play-making
ability. He’s a dude that if you pick up a ball for backyard
football or whatever, he’s a guy that you want.
”For me, I see him exceeding any expectations placed on him and
capitalizing on the year he had last year. He’s not any slower. He
doesn’t have a slow step in him. He’s attacking every day as if he
never had an injury and that’s exactly what you want.”
Mitchell, meanwhile, appears bound for a full-time role on
defense. Injuries to safeties Tray Matthews and Corey Moore, who
might start while Josh Harvey-Clemons serves a one-game suspension,
haven’t led to even a part-time role in the secondary for
Receivers coach Tony Ball quickly put a stop to any thought
Mitchell had of visiting the defense.
”I think one day I played around and tried to at practice,”
said Mitchell, when asked if he has seen any time on defense.
”Coach Ball wasn’t having any of it. We were doing one-on-ones and
I just jumped up there in front of one of my receivers and they
made me move.”
NOTES: Georgia, which worked out in shorts for 90 minutes on
Saturday, has set its game-week practice schedule. Richt said the
Bulldogs will have their normal full-pads workout on Monday instead
of Tuesday, leaving time for the players to have an extra ”dress
rehearsal” before making the trip to Clemson. Richt said the goal
is ”to get everybody’s legs back and get them as healthy as we’ll
be.” … Richt said he hopes Matthews, a projected starter as a
freshman, can return from shoulder and hamstring injuries to play
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