When Nelson Agholor declared for the NFL Draft in early January, a huge hole was immediately created. Agholor led the Trojans with 102 receptions for 1,313 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2014 and was quarterback Cody Kessler's favorite target.
The decision to go pro by Agholor was expected but created the question of who would start alongside JuJu Smith in 2015?
After spring practice, which concluded last Saturday, the answer might be redshirt sophomore Steven Mitchell. Mitchell has had a tremendous spring this year and had seven catches for 90 yards in the Spring Game. Maybe the biggest reason why Mitchell shined during the spring is that he is finally healthy.
A Pasadena, California native, Mitchell was a four-star recruit in the class of 2013 coming out of Bishop Alemany High School. After finishing his senior season with his second-consecutive 1,000-yard receiving season, Mitchell committed to USC over Notre Dame, Texas A&M, and multiple Pac-12 schools.
Mitchell was participating in voluntary workouts in June of 2013 when his knee buckled, tearing ligaments in his right knee. Mitchell would redshirt and miss the entire season.
After missing all of spring practice in 2014, Mitchell returned for fall camp but dealt with a groin injury that limited him. When he became 100% healthy, Mitchell found himself low in the depth chart and although he played in 11 games last year, he only had seven receptions for 82 yards and two touchdowns.
This spring, Mitchell has been phenomenal. His route running has looked crisp and he has made some great catches in practices.
During the spring game, it all came together and he was one of the stars of the game. His biggest play of the game came when he took a short slant route sixty yards and would have scored against anybody in the nation except Adoree' Jackson, who ran him down for the tackle.
Mitchell can be Agholor's replacement. At 5'10" 185 pounds, Mitchell can line up in the slot and be that receiver that can take short receptions for big gains.
If Mitchell can stay healthy in 2015, he can become a breakout star in the Pac-12.