ATLANTA — When you listen to Todd Monken speak about the Georgia offense, you can tell the offensive coordinator had big plans for sophomore AD Mitchell.
But those plans went out the window when Mitchell suffered a high-ankle sprain in the second game of the season against Samford. He played a mere five snaps from the end of the game against Oregon until the SEC championship game against LSU.
“You lose AD early in the year, and you’re forced to adapt, and luckily we’ve got other good players,” Monken said.
Mitchell was able to return to the field for 15 snaps against LSU. While he did not catch a pass in the win for Georgia, he did throw a two-point conversion pass to Darnell Washington.
It was an awesome moment for Mitchell, who was glad to be contributing again.
“Just glad to be back,” Mitchell said on Thursday.
More than anyone, the four-week break between the SEC championship game and Saturday’s College Football Playoff game again should greatly help Mitchell. It allows him to ramp up his practice workload and help re-integrate himself into the Georgia offense.
For a player that caught touchdown passes in both College Football Playoff games last season, he should bring an added vertical element to the Georgia offense.
“He’s so dynamic, he’s an electric player,” wide receiver Ladd McConkey said of Mitchell. “We missed having him out there this year, he’s a fantastic player. For him to be able to finally get healthy and get back out there it’s awesome to see and I’m so glad he’s able to do it.”
Mitchell’s return comes with as McConkey’s status is in doubt. He left the game against LSU with a knee injury. He’s become Georgia’s top wide receiver with Mitchell out, catching 51 passes for 675 yards and five touchdowns.
Aside from the Oregon game, Georgia has not had its full arsenal of weapons available for Stetson Bennett to use.
Yet the Bulldogs still averaged 39.2 points per game this season. Imagine what the passing offense could’ve looked like were Mitchell and McConkey able to be the best versions of themselves this season.
Mitchell eagerly hopes to become a big part of the offense once again for Georgia. In the eyes of his position coach, Bryan McClendon, Mitchell has traversed through the hardest part of the recovery process. ”
“Anytime somebody gets injured, anytime someone gets hurt, the first thing it goes to is the mental piece of it,” McClendon said. “It’s just, ‘I want to get back, I want to get back.’ Then once you do get back, it’s a process of making sure you’re back in full swing where you’re not worrying about it.
“He’s finally been able to work through that entire process of it.”
McClendon expects Mitchell to go out and play well against the Buckeyes. He’s seen what Mitchell has been doing in practice and is encouraged about where the wide receiver is at entering the biggest game of the season for Georgia.
Mitchell is no stranger to big games and great plays, as his go-ahead touchdown catch against Alabama is arguably the biggest catch in program history. The play was a perfect distillation of what makes Mitchell great as he used his speed, leaping ability and strength to come down with the fourth-quarter touchdown.
Now that he knows he’ll be on the field and playing a meaningful role, Mitchell wants to remind everyone why Georgia had such great expectations for him at the beginning of the season.
“It’s the games that everyone is watching,” Mitchell said. “It’s the games that mean the most.”
AD Mitchell excited to play a big role for Georgia football against Ohio State
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