The list of G-Day stars who then saw their careers never match those same spring highs is long. From names like Jonathon Rumph to AJ Turman, a big spring performance is not always indicative of future success.
Freshman wide receiver Adonai Mitchell though appears to be dispelling that notion.
Mitchell was Georgia’s leading receiver in the spring scrimmage, catching seven passes for 105 yards and a touchdown. While the performance was encouraging, Mitchell still faced a crowded depth chart entering the fall, even after the injury to George Pickens.
In this past Saturday’s scrimmage, Georgia was without wide receivers Kearis Jackson and Jermaine Burton. The former is recovering from offseason surgery and was wearing a noticeable brace on his left leg at practice on Monday. The latter has an ankle injury.
With all the injuries, Mitchell has been given a greater opportunity. And he seems to be taking advantage of it.
“He gives a lot of us trouble,” senior defensive back Ameer Speed said. “I think his time is coming soon. He’s a young guy who I can’t wait to see him explode one day.”
Related: How Georgia football can overcome short-term injuries at wide receiver
Those comments echo what Georgia offensive coordinator Todd Monken said about Mitchell last week. When you consider the success Monken has had with big-bodied receivers in the past like Justin Blackmon, Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, that should be an encouraging long-term note for the 6-foot-4 Mitchell.
Playing a wide receiver as a freshman has almost become commonplace under Kirby Smart. In each of the last two seasons, a freshman receiver has had at least 25 receptions and over 400-yards receiving for the Bulldogs.
So the Georgia head coach has a good understanding of this point of players like Mitchell need time to develop over the course of the season.
Even if the beginning can be rough.
“Like what Adonai Mitchell has had to do this fall camp and spring, to what Jermaine Burton was going through last year,” Smart said. “I thought that Coach Monken made a good decision to throw Jermaine out there and make him go play early. Even in the Arkansas game. It was tough. We went through some growing pains.
Burton had just four catches in his first three games in 2020. But he then finished with four catches and a touchdown against Alabama in the fourth game of the season.
By game seven, Burton came within eight yards of setting a school record for most receiving yards in a game.
“It paid off in the end because he got a lot more confidence,” Smart said. “We’re trying to go through some of those same growing pains with a lot of those young guys at wide out.”
Burton and Jackson are both expected to be good to go for the season-opener against Clemson. Things are trending in the right direction as well with Rosemy-Jacksaint.
Still, an opportunity exists for Mitchell. One very few people thought was a possibility prior to the spring. It might not always be perfect against a tough Clemson defense but it could end up putting Mitchell in a position to make a serious impact come the end of the 2021 season.
Ameer Speed excited for Adonai Mitchell and his potential
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