It's been a 13-month wait for Georgia wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell, but it's about to finally be over.
And if what teammate Chris Conley has seen on the practice field is any indication, Mitchell's return from injury to the Bulldogs' lineup will make quite a splash.
"To me it looks like there's nothing wrong with him, he's just taking his time to come back. And he looks extremely explosive, and he looks like he hasn't missed a beat," Conley said, according to macon.com. "So I'm fine with him taking his time coming back. Until he does, we'll take care of things, and hold down the fort."
Conley and the rest of the Georgia receivers, by now, have gotten plenty used to holding down the fort. Recall that Mitchell tore his ACL in a bizarre accident against Clemson in Georgia's first game of the 2013 season, in which he landed awkwardly after a celebratory airborne bump with Todd Gurley. It not only cast a shadow on the 75-yard touchdown Gurley had just scored, but eventually the entire season as Mitchell hasn't played since.
Another injury to the same knee required more surgery in August, putting the Bulldogs' most talented wide receiver on the bench yet again. According to UGA coach Mark Richt, Mitchell should return -- at least, in a limited capacity -- when Georgia plays Vanderbilt on Oct. 4.
For Bulldogs fans who can remember Mitchell at his best, it will be a welcome return. Mitchell was Georgia's No. 2 receiver in 2012, behind only Tavarres King, currently of the Jacksonville Jaguars. Once he is healthy enough to play a full game, he has the talent to be quarterback Hutson Mason's No. 1 target this year. Mitchell is a fourth-year junior who could be drafted in either 2015 or 2016, depending on whether he declares early eligibility.