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USC Trojans Football 2016: Preseason Player Spotlight, Steven Mitchell Jr.

A rising freshman in 2015 Mitchell Jr. looks to take the next step this upcoming season.

NCAA Football:  Arizona at Southern California Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

With talent rampant at the wide receiver position in 2015, sophomore wideout Steven Mitchell Jr. was a player who flew under the radar. Even still, he put up productive numbers and remained a reliable source of production. Catching 37 passes for 335 yards and four touchdowns, Mitchell Jr. proved to be a steady target for a torrid Trojan passing attack.

Mitchell Jr. started off the season strong, catching four passes for 32 yards and a touchdown in the season-opener against Arkansas State as the Trojans asserted their dominance by a 55-7 margin. The following week against an overmatched Idaho team, he caught two passes for 16 yards, one of the many players to make a contribution in the contest as USC rolled again by a 59-9 edge.

Mitchell Jr. did his part against Stanford in the third game of the season, catching three passes for 12 yards and two touchdowns in a losing effort, as the Trojans fell by a 41-31 score. Looking to keep the good momentum going, he snared four passes for 66 yards and a touchdown as the Trojans high-powered offense proved too much for the Sun Devils, winning 42-14

Unfortunately for Mitchell, he would not see game action against Notre Dame and Utah as the second half of the season did not prove to be as fruitful for him. He still was a contributor to the offense, and followed up his two absences with a two-catch 11-yard performance against California, a contest USC won by a 27-21 score. Catching four passes for 22 yards against Arizona the week after, it was clear that Mitchell was making the most of his opportunities and producing when called upon.

During the final weeks of the season in particular, he showed that he could stretch the field, contributing three catches for 59 yards as the Trojans squeaked by Colorado, 27-24. Seven catches for 31 yards was his output the following week against Oregon as he proved a reliable constant in a 48-28 loss to their Pac-12 foes.

Contributing one catch for 17 yards against rival UCLA, the Trojans won by a 40-21 margin. Stanford managed to shut down Mitchell and the Trojans as he caught three passes for 39 yards as the program limped to the finish line of the regular season with a 41-22 loss.

Performing strong in the regular season earned USC a spot in the National Funding Holiday Bowl against Wisconsin and the two programs battled toe-to-toe with the Badgers coming out on the winning side of things, 23-21. Mitchell caught two passes for 21 yards, ending his season rather quietly.

What can he bring to the Trojans in 2016? He can provide depth to a deep receiving core, something that cannot be understated. During the grind of a football season, injuries happen, and if you have someone who can come off the bench and step in and make an impact right away, that is enormous. Particularly with all the experience he gained his freshman year, he should be able to make a bigger impression this season.

50 receptions, 500 yards, and six touchdowns is what I think he will end up contributing to the team this year. He has shown the ability to be a productive receiver and I think he will take the next step to becoming an elite one in 2016.