ATHENS -- A freshman virtually nobody was talking about on signing day was the star of the game Saturday as the Red team defeated the Black 28-23 in the G-Day game, Georgia’s annual intrasquad scrimmage at Sanford Stadium.
Adonai Mitchell signed with the Bulldogs as a 3-star prospect out of Missouri City, Texas, in December and actually fell ill not long after arriving. But after injuries ravaged Georgia’s split-end position – best known for being occupied by one George Pickens – it was the 6-foot-4, 190-pound Mitchell who emerged from the carnage and started for the No. 1 offense in the spring game.
Mitchell quickly showed the socially distanced crowd of 20,524 why he earned that distinction by catching five passes for 80 yards in the first half alone. He finished with a game-high seven catches for 105 yards and hauled in a 24-yard touchdown pass.
It was pleasant surprise for all but those who have being seeing Mitchell’s work every day.
“A.D. has the potential to be one of the best freshman receivers this year,” said Kearis Jackson, a fourth-year junior and the Bulldogs’ starting slotback.
Said coach Kirby Smart: “We thought he was a really good player. We didn’t care what anybody else thought. He’s a good football player.”
Mitchell is a survivor at a position where, in addition to Pickens, the Bulldogs lost Jermaine Burton (knee) and Justin Robinson (Achilles) to minor injuries this spring. Georgia was already without Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint, Pickens’ backup last year, who sat out the spring recovering from an ankle fracture.
“We lost George, which forced him to play more, but (Mitchell) picked it up fast,” Smart said. “When Jermaine went down, he got even more reps. But we’re really excited. We think he’s a really good player.
The Bulldogs believe Mitchell would have found his way into the lineup anyway. They felt that way during recruiting.
“We do as good as job as anybody in the country when it comes to evaluating players,” Smart bragged. “It’s not about what they’re ranked, what the media says about them, what the rankings say. We watch the tape and the tape speaks volumes. It did in the case of Jordan Davis, and it spoke volumes in the case of Adonai Mitchell.”
Said Jackson: “He’s very athletic and things like that. But, there’s still room for improvement, condition-wise, just being able to sustain. He did put on a showcase today, but there’s still room for improvement.”
Some other notes from G-Day:
Redshirt freshman Jalen Kimber and senior Ameer Speed started at cornerback for the Bulldogs. Speed had seven tackles and two pass-breakups but was the victim of a controversial 59-yard touchdown catch by Demetris Robertson. Robertson may have interfered. …
Senior offensive lineman Jamaree Salyer did not play because of an undisclosed injury. Ultimately, that resulted in redshirt freshman Tate Ratledge getting to start at right guard. Justin Shaffer started at left guard instead of right, Xavier Truss started at left tackle, Warren Ericson started at guard and Warren McClendon started at right tackle. …
The Black defense registered four sacks, including two by interior defensive lineman Devonte Wyatt. Travon Walker and Nolan Smith also recorded sacks. … Quay Walker led the No. 1 defense with eight tackles and safety Lewis Cine had an interception and 15-yard return. … Freshman defensive back Javon Bullard led the Red defense with seven tackles and safety Major Burns added six. Freshman linebacker Smael Mondon stood out for the Red defense and had five stops. …
The highlight of the day probably was tight Darnell Washington’s 51-yard catch and run for the Black squad in the first half. He came on third-and-8 and featured not only the 6-7, 260-pounder making a tight-rope catch on the sideline, but also him trucking walk-on defensive back Dan Jackson to break free before getting run down by Bullard at the 8.
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Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC