Adonai Mitchell: Indianapolis Colts Rookie Files

Fueled by his daughter, Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Adonai Mitchell is focused on taking the NFL by storm.
Texas Longhorns wide receiver Adonai Mitchell (5) celebrates a touchdown against Alabama at Bryant-Denny Stadium on Saturday, Sep. 9, 2023 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
Texas Longhorns wide receiver Adonai Mitchell (5) celebrates a touchdown against Alabama at Bryant-Denny Stadium on Saturday, Sep. 9, 2023 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. / Aaron E. Martinez/American-Statesman /

When watching football players battle on the gridiron, it can be easy to forget that they are just like the rest of us.

Most players leave their jobs in the evening and look forward to spending time with their families. They have wives and children to provide for and want to ensure they enjoy the best life possible. Their families are the inspiration for putting their bodies on the line every day.

Family can even help shape the journey of a player's career.

This is "Rookie Files," a series on Horseshoe Huddle that gives you the backstory of every rookie for the Indianapolis Colts. Going player by player, we look at their journeys to the NFL and what makes each unique while also detailing how they help the Colts. Next up, Adonai Mitchell, whose motivation to be great comes not only from proving others wrong but from a desire to give his daughter the world.

Change Is Sometimes a Good Thing

Football player Adonai Mitchell looks on in a white jersey.
Cane Ridge High School's Adonai Mitchell (5) looks on before a play. / Ryan Callahan - 247Sports

Mitchell was born on October 8, 2002, in Missouri City, Tex., to Norman Mitchell and Darcy Padgett. Mitchell's parents moved to Missouri City a couple of years before he was born to start the Bee Busy Wellness Center, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping low-income families get back on their feet. While running the foundation, Norman and Darcy always made time to support Mitchell and his three older brothers in whatever they wanted to do.

Growing up in Texas, playing pee-wee football was a right of passage. Mitchell and his brothers started playing youth football at a young age, mostly against kids his brothers' age. But Mitchell quickly showed his talents, primarily playing quarterback because he was the best player on the field.

Basketball was another sport Mitchell loved to play. He would dream about one day playing in the NBA with his brothers. However, Mitchell realized his talents were better suited for the football field than the basketball court. By the time he reached high school, football had become the main focus.

Mitchell enrolled at Westbury Christian School in Houston to begin his high school journey, where coaches kept him as a quarterback. While Mitchell was a fine quarterback, his talents better suited the wide receiver position. When colleges failed to show interest in Mitchell as a signal caller, he decided he needed to be at a school that would allow him to play receiver.

As a sophomore, Mitchell attended Ridge Point High School, a 6A school in Fort Bend County. Mitchell would play wide receiver, and by going up against better competition, colleges began to notice. Mitchell tallied 25 catches for 378 yards and nine total touchdowns as a junior, earning second-team All-District honors and helping Ridge Point to a district championship.

While Mitchell had made strides in his recruiting, the big schools were not calling. Norman saw Mitchell's passion for the game of football, and after talking with Darcy, made the huge decision to move Mitchell to Nashville to chase his dream. Mitchell would spend his senior season training with Buck Fitzgerald at the National Playmakers Academy, hoping to receive big-time college offers.

The decision paid off, as Mitchell spent his senior season at Cane Ridge High School. Mitchell filled in at quarterback for the first three games of the season but switched back to wide receiver and became almost unguardable. He finished the season with 49 catches for 795 yards and 11 touchdowns on the way to winning the 2019 Region 5-6A Athlete of the Year.

As a four-star recruit by the time his high school career concluded, Mitchell was the No.63 wide receiver in the class of 2020 and had collected offers from the best schools in the country. Mitchell would initially commit to Lane Kiffin and Ole Miss in the spring of 2020 but continued to keep his options open. After reclassifying to the class of 2021 and receiving more offers, Mitchell flipped his commitment to the University of Georgia and head coach Kirby Smart.

Little did Mitchell know that his life would change forever before he would even play a snap of college football.

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Girl Dad and National Champion

Football player Adonai Mitchell celebrates in a red jersey.
Georgia Bulldogs wide receiver Adonai Mitchell (5) celebrates against the TCU Horned Frogs during the CFP national championship game at SoFi Stadium. / Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Mitchell enrolled at Georgia in January of 2021 and got off to a hot start within the football program. As the top receiver recruit in Georgia's 2021 class, Mitchell was impressive in the Bulldogs' spring game. He hauled in seven catches for 105 yards and a touchdown, signifying he would be ready for a role on offense early.

As Mitchell continued to impress throughout the summer, he experienced a life-changing moment in his personal life. Mitchell's daughter, Icylinn, was born during the summer of 2021. Mitchell instantly fell in love with the little girl he calls "Twin Twin."

"I was never someone who liked being around babies," Mitchell wrote in a letter to Icylinn in The Players Tribune. "If anyone ever brought one over to the house, I’d be outside right away. But the moment you were born, there was nothing else I wanted to do other than be around you."

While Icylinn stayed in Texas to live with Mitchell's parents, the wide receiver returned to Athens to begin his college football career. His hot summer earned Mitchell a starting role as a freshman on the best team in college football. Mitchell finished the season with 29 catches for 426 yards and four touchdowns, including the go-ahead score against Alabama in the National Championship game.

Mitchell was enjoying the good life. He was thriving on and off the field at Georgia and making a name for himself nationally. But Mitchell found a new perspective during his sophomore season.

Mitchell suffered an ankle injury in 2022 and missed nine games. By not being on the field, Mitchell realized how much he missed his family. He realized how much he missed Icylinn and was missing out on her growing up.

"When I got injured my sophomore year and for the first time I actually couldn’t play football, ... things became more clear to me," Mitchell admitted. "I’d spent so much time away from (Icylinn) that, whenever I visited, it would feel like we were starting over from scratch. Whenever I picked (her) up, (she would) cry at first because (she) didn’t recognize me — we didn’t really have a relationship. And that just made my heart sad."

Mitchell would tally nine catches for 134 yards and three touchdowns in limited action in 2022 as Georgia would win a second-consecutive national title. Instead of chasing a three-peat, Mitchell wanted to be closer to his daughter. It was time to come home.

Coming Home

Football player Adonai Mitchell catches a pass in an orange jersey.
Texas Longhorns wide receiver Adonai Mitchell (5) catches the ball for a first down against Kansas State Wildcats cornerback Jacob Parrish (10) in the first quarter. / Ricardo B. Brazziell/American-Statesman

After two seasons with the Bulldogs, Mitchell entered the transfer portal to move closer to his daughter. Smart did not want Mitchell to leave, but he understood why the wide receiver had to transfer. It was for a reason bigger than football.

"He struggled a lot with her being so far away," Norman Mitchell said. "And, at the end of the day, it was a decision to be closer to his daughter."

Mitchell transferred to the University of Texas in Austin to join head coach Steve Sarkisian and the Longhorns. The school was only a two-hour drive from his daughter, allowing Mitchell to visit her whenever he liked. Texas was also building a contender, and Mitchell felt he could be the missing piece to help the Longhorns reach glory again.

It did not take long for Mitchell to remind the country of the immense potential he showed in 2021. He became an explosive deep threat in Sarkisian's offense and touchdown machine. Mitchell racked up a career season with 55 catches for 854 yards and 11 touchdowns, helping Texas capture the Big 12 Championship and the school's first College Football Playoff appearance. The Longhorns may have lost in the semifinals to Washington, but Mitchell's impact was felt throughout the program.

After a three-year college career with 93 catches for 1,405 yards and 18 touchdowns, Mitchell decided to forego his senior season and enter the 2024 NFL Draft. He felt he was ready to make the jump to the pros, giving Icylinn the life he always dreamed of giving her.

During the pre-draft process, Mitchell put on a show at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. At 6-2 and 205 pounds, Mitchell ran a blistering 4.34 40-yard dash with a 39.5-inch vertical and 11-4 broad jump. His 9.99 RAS ranks tied for the third-highest-score ever for a wide receiver.

As draft night approached, Mitchell received first-round buzz and expected to be called on Night 1. But the first round came and went, and Mitchell did not hear his name called. By the middle of the second round, 10 wide receivers had been selected, but not Mitchell.

But when the No.52 pick came around, the Colts knew they could not allow Mitchell to slip by. They saw him tear it up on the turf at Lucas Oil Stadium and his Texas pro day. The Colts ended Mitchell's slide, drafting a grateful player ready to make 31 other teams pay for passing on him.

"Right now, the only thing I'm feeling is, I'm just kind of pissed," Mitchell admitted after he was drafted. "I'm just excited to work, excited to get (to Indy), be the best teammate I can be, and ultimately the best person I can be for the team. It's been a long time coming."

How Mitchell Helps the Colts

Football player Adonai Mitchell catches a touchdown in a white jersey.
Texas Longhorns wide receiver Adonai Mitchell (5) catches a touchdown pass against Washington Huskies cornerback Ryder Bumgarner (25) during the fourth quarter in the 2024 Sugar Bowl. / John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Mitchell brings a unique skill set to the Colts wide receiver room. He is a freak athlete with impressive speed and leaping ability, allowing him to be a threat all over the field. Mitchell also has hands like glue, boasting one of the best drop rates (1.9%) in college football a season ago.

Mitchell excels at creating separation at the top of his routes. His route-running is smooth and fluid, setting up defensive backs before exploding out of his breaks. Mitchell's elite ability to get open will serve him well at the next level.

Mitchell is coming into an ideal situation with the Colts. It starts with the men pounding the table for Mitchell in that draft room: Head coach Shane Steichen and wide receivers coach Reggie Wayne.

While Steichen will be the man scheming up plays for Mitchell to make an impact, Wayne is the man Mitchell will be learning from the most. Being able to pick the brain of a future Hall of Famer will be huge for Mitchell's development.

Mitchell is also joining an offense with a quarterback who fits his strengths. Anthony Richardson can get the ball to any blade of grass on the field, providing Mitchell the type of big-armed signal-caller he needs to fully unlock his potential as a dynamic vertical threat in the NFL. The pairing seems natural between the two players as the Colts look to get more explosive on offense in 2024 and beyond.

As Mitchell begins his career, the 21-year-old has a few factors fueling him. Every game he plays in the NFL will be against a team that passed up on him. Mitchell's jersey number, 10, is a reminder of how many wide receivers were drafted before him.

But Mitchell's ultimate catalyst will always be Icylinn. And for a loving father, no other motivation is needed.

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Andrew Moore


Andrew Moore is the Senior Analyst for Horseshoe Huddle and an Indianapolis Colts expert. Andrew is also the co-host of the Horseshoe Huddle Podcast and the former co-host of A Colts Podcast.