With all the injuries at wide receiver for Georgia, someone was going to have an opportunity to step up and make some plays.
On G-Day, that happened to be freshman Adonai Mitchell.
The 2021 signee was targeted a game-high 13 times, catching seven passes for 105 yards and a touchdown. The 24-yard touchdown catch was the most impressive play of the day for Mitchell, as he hauled in a missile from quarterback JT Daniels on the final play of the first half.
Related: Freshman wide receiver Adonai Mitchell making a strong first impression on JT Daniels
Mitchell had a highly unusual path to G-Day stardom. He did not play organized football in 2020 as he reclassified to be a part of the 2021 recruiting cycle. Originally an Ole Miss commitment, Georgia was able to flip him and bring him in as a part of Georgia’s No. 4 ranked signing class.
While Mitchell was just a 3-star recruit, Smart always felt confident in the evaluation of Mitchell and what he could possibly bring to the team.
“We watch the tape and the tape speaks volumes,” Smart said. “It did in the case of Jordan Davis, it spoke volumes in the case of Adonai Mitchell. We thought he was a really good player. We didn’t care what anybody else thought. He’s a good football player.”
Mitchell didn’t have a perfect game, as he did drop a perfectly placed back-shoulder throw from Daniels on the opening drive of the game, but it was still an encouraging showing at a position that hasn’t had many positive developments this spring.
George Pickens suffered a torn ACL, while Jermaine Burton hyperextended his knee. Pickens’ injury will keep him out for the foreseeable future. Burton did dress out on Saturday but did not play. Arian Smith was in a white non-contact jersey after he sprained his wrist this spring. He played in the game but did not record a catch.
The other positive wide receiver development was that Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint was able to dress out for the game, though he did not play. Rosemy-Jacksaint has been working his way back from a fractured ankle he injured during the loss to Florida.
A healthy Rosemy-Jacksaint, along with the physically gifted Mitchell, could go a long way in replacing what Pickens brought to the team. Pickens mostly lined up at the X receiver position for Georgia last fall, the very same one Mitchell flashed in on G-Day.
“Just him being in the X position gives him a lot of one-on-one opportunities to win,” Daniels said of Mitchell. “When you see a lot of one-on-ones, you see your X get the ball more often than not. That’s usually just the way it works out where you go where the defense tells you to based on what they’re playing.
Mitchell still has areas he can improve on, with Jackson and Smart both pointing to his conditioning. That is something he will be able to work on in the summer as he continues to try and contribute to a Georgia passing attack that could potentially be one of the best in the country.
G-Day tends to produce false heroes, as Jonathon Rumph and Matt Landers come to mind as past wide receivers who appeared to breakout during G-Day, only to make minimal contributions come the fall.
Whether Mitchell is able to buck that trend will come down to how he and the rest of the wide receiver room shape up. Georgia still has a long way to go before opening the season against Clemson and Burton, Rosemy-Jacksaint, Smith and Dominick Blaylock all figure to return from injury by then.
But Saturday was a promising first start for Mitchell and an encouraging development from a position that really needed one.
“We lost George, which forced him to play more, but he picked it up fast,” Smart said of Mitchell. “When Jermaine went down he got even more reps. But we’re really excited. We think he’s a really good player.”
Kearis Jackson praises Adonai Mitchell performance in Georgia spring game
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