Redshirt junior wide receiver Steven Mitchell, Jr. is expecting to play a much bigger role in the USC offense this upcoming season, and that all starts with spring practice.
“Spring has been going pretty good,” Mitchell said. “All of the young players are doing great. The tempo is raised a lot more than last spring. We had to get used to it the first couple of practices, but we are going.”
Over the past two seasons Mitchell has only missed four games, but his production has been slowed by knee, ankle and hernia injuries. This spring Mitchell is hoping to put the injury bug behind him and move forward as a healthy, fulltime contributor.
“I gained a little weight [to 196 pounds] so I am feeling strong and fast,” he said. “I don’t even think about my knee any more. My body is feeling good, my ankle is feeling strong so I just have to keep this up and continue into the season.”
Receivers coach Tee Martin was given a promotion this offseason to offensive coordinator, which suits Mitchell and the rest of the receivers just fine.
“It’s great, he is our receivers coach so we are the first ones he tells about the plays coming up,” Mitchell said. “It’s just that much more learning from him.
“Every meeting, every day we are trying to make up plays to get everybody open. He was doing that a little bit throughout the years, but now that he has stepped into that position I am excited to see what’s in store.
“It hasn’t really changed too much for us, we see him just as much as we did. The only thing that has changed is we get to see the plays first, we get to go over them as a receiver group. Every period that we have a break we are talking with him and he is interacting with us, so nothing pretty much has changed.”
Mitchell is part of a deep position group for the Trojans that will have 12 scholarship receivers and several walk-ons this fall.
“It’s weird, this is the first time our receiver room has been filled, fully filled,” he said. “We’re trying to teach the young guys all that we can and we are learning from them as well, learning how to be leaders. The reps are there, we just got to go take them.”
“[The young guys] are doing good. They are surprising me because coming into this offense, we have so many plays, our playbook is thick.”
That receiver’s room could have been even fuller than it is now, but Jalen Greene, after spending 2015 as a receiver, moved back to quarterback. Now Greene will compete with Max Browne, Sam Darnold and Matt Fink to take over for Cody Kessler.
“We actually have a little ‘RIP Jalen Greene’ in our room with his picture up as a little joke,” Mitchell said. “The quarterbacks are good, all of them have surprised me. Jalen with his speed, Max is becoming a leader and I can definitely see that with all of them. I am excited to see who steps in to take that position.
“Sam surprised me last year. I knew Sam was good and when he first came on the scout team I was like, ‘Man, he should probably be over here with us.’ Sam is for sure a special player. Him, Jalen, Max, it’s going to be a battle.”
Stay tuned to USCFootball.com for more updates from spring practices.
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