Georgia wide receivers AD Mitchell has been a focus for Bulldogs fans since he was injured in the second game of the Bulldogs’ second game this fall. While it remains to be seen when the second wide receiver will be back on the field, his head coach told reporters Tuesday that Mitchell is making progress.
Smart said Tuesday night that Mitchell got in some drills this week and was able to do some reps during the Bulldogs’ practice on Tuesday. While it remains to be seen whether or not Mitchell will be available on Saturday, Smart explained that there have been encouraging signs as Mitchell is working to return to action.
“He’s been practicing. He could go out and do some reps and stuff. He took a few today,” Smart said. “I wouldn’t say he’s 100% – I don’t even know if I would say he’s close to playing, but he’s done more this week than any other week. So he’s closer than ever, so I’m confident.”
Smart was later asked why Mitchell didn’t have to undergo rope surgery for the high ankle sprain like the other wide receiver Ariane Smith did back during fall camp. While Smart referenced Georgia sports medicine physician Ron Courson in more detail, the Bulldogs head coach explained that an MRI must show a specific type of ankle injury for this surgery to be an effective treatment. Mitchell didn’t have that surgery when he picked up the September 10 injury, nor when he tweaked it in Georgia’s Oct. 8 game against Auburn.
Smart also said it didn’t see anything change on Mitchell’s MRI after he played the Tigers.
“There was never anything seen between the first MRI and the second MRI that suggested further damage,” Smart said. “It bothered him more. He felt like he had tweaked it, but since the second MRI, there hasn’t been any damage or anything in it.”
Georgia’s only concern for players struggling with season-ending injuries is Georgia’s offensive guard Tate Ratledge, who missed the game in Kentucky with a shoulder subluxation. Smart said Ratledge has been training every day so far this week, although that doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll be available against Georgia Tech.
“Tate has been training every day for the last week so it will come down to how much he can play,” Smart said.
Smart said last Tuesday he was “hopeful” for Mitchell and STAR Javon Bullard be available this week but offered no further clarification of Mitchell’s status. Bullard eventually started for Georgia against Kentucky, although again Mitchell was out of contention.
Mitchell did not travel to Kentucky last week or to the state of Mississippi the week before to focus fully on his rehab.
Smart told reporters two weeks ago that Mitchell was still not training with the team as he worked on the side to rehabilitate his ankle injury. Mitchell hasn’t played since the Auburn game.
Mitchell traveled with the team to the Florida game but was undressed and did not play.
Mitchell went through preliminary warm-ups for the Vanderbilt game but didn’t do reps with the wide receivers as the entire team came onto the field. He warmed up against Auburn the week before but only played 4 snaps in the game.
Smart explained after the Auburn win that Mitchell was now dealing with a sprained thumb while working his way back from the ankle injury.
Mitchell has missed eight of Georgia’s last nine games after suffering an ankle injury on September 10 against Samford. Mitchell caught 5 passes for 69 yards and 1 touchdown in the Bulldogs’ season opener before sustaining the injury in the first game from scrimmage at Samford.
Ratledge has developed strongly this season after working his way back from a Lisfranc injury sustained on the first drive of the 2021 Bulldogs season. Ratledge had started at right in each of Georgia’s first 11 games this fall and was part of a Georgia offense that averaged 40.6 points per game during that period.
Smart credited Willock with playing well against the Wildcats in Ratledge’s place.
“He did a good job. He did a lot of reps over there on the right during the week,” said Smart. “He shows a lot of confidence, a lot of size. [There’s] Things he can do better, things he can do better in the game and he’s going to keep working on that.”