In the world of recruiting, there are always top linebacker prospects from the state of Ohio, and 2013 was no exception. Three of the top 40 in the class of 2013 came from the state, yet in an unusual turn of events, none of them signed with Ohio State. In years past, that would normally mean getting a second tier kid from the state, but Urban Meyer and staff broke out the machetes and hacked their way to Texas, opening up a pipeline which had been dormant for far too long. At the end of the trail they found what a lot of people think is the top linebacker prospect in the country in Mike Mitchell, and they plucked him from the heart of Big 12 and SEC country.
40: 4.39. That's a linebacker with running back/deep threat wide receiver speed. The Latin term for that is ‘Velocitus Linebackus Ridicus', which means ridiculous speed for a linebacker.
High School: Prestonwood Christian Academy (Plano, TX)
Mike Mitchell started breaking out in the Spring of 2012 by taking the MVP award at a TCU/ Nike sponsored Training Camp, and then carried that momentum over to The Opening, held in Oregon, where he was declared the overall SPARQ champion. Out on the West Coast, he turned in that eye popping 40 time, set an all time points record at the competition, and really put himself on the recruiting radar. As spring turned to summer and then to fall, Mitchell's profile really began to rise. After his performance at The Opening, and he was named the preseason #1 linebacker for the Midlands Region, his overall ranking began to skyrocket, and interest in him went from mostly Texas schools to truly nationwide.
And he lived up to the hype and pressure that fall, amassing a ridiculous 186 tackles, 32 tackles for loss, 11 sacks, and five forced fumbles. He also returned kicks (one for a TD) and helped his high school, Prestonwood Academy, reach the state quarterfinals before falling to Austin-St. Michael's, 30-22. His highest ranking was on Scout, where he is listed as the #2 middle linebacker in the country, but the overall 247Composite rankings has him as the #6 outside linebacker nationally, and the #8 player in the state of Texas.
Although Mitchell became one of the hottest commodities on the recruiting trail, his recruitment was a pretty straightforward deal. He was offered by Ohio State fairly early on in the process (along with Texas, Texas A&M, and almost every major FBS program), and had a pretty consistent top three of the Buckeyes, Texas A&M, and Oregon. Most of the earliest speculation other than the Bucks gave the nod to A&M, as it was closest to his hometown of Plano, but OSU recrutiniks always felt good about eventually landing Mitchell. He was always overly complimentary of Meyer, Ohio State, and the staff, he never really said A&M was the school to beat, and OSU's relative depth (or lack of) at the linebacker position likely gave Mitchell the earliest chance to get in the rotation earliest.
After months of speculation that Ohio State was pretty much it for Mitchell, he finally made things official in the fourth quarter of the 2013 U.S. Army All-American Bowl. Ohio State fans that had been coveting
When you're looking at a recruiting class, in many ways it's similar to grading an NFL draft class – everyone thinks even the 7th rounder was a 'steal', and is going to be a 'stud'. With recruiting classes, it's kind of the same deal, and at Ohio State it's even more accentuated – fans tend to think four and five star guys will walk right in and play, and it usually doesn't work out that way. Yes, many will contribute, but hardly any will start.
So listen to me when I tell you that Mike Mitchell is one of two or three guys in this class that legitimately has the ability to come in and start. When you combine the recent lackluster play of the linebackers with the exception of Ryan Shazier, their relative inexperience, and add in a lack of depth (especially in the wake of the rumored impending David Perkins transfer), and then let all that marinade in a crock pot while you sit and watch Mitchell's film? You come away with the impression that yeah, he can flat out play. I'm not sure I've seen a guy with his size and speed play the linebacker position as well as he does. I'm trying to put a restrictor plate on my compliments with this kid, and keep the perspective of him playing high school competition, but it's difficult.
He's athletic to play almost any position on the field; you see him close on and tackle wide receivers who had a 40 or 50 yard start on him after making a long catch and think he could be a shutdown cornerback. He's also got a very good instinct for the game, and seems to flow very well to where the ball is going to be. When blitzing, he doesn't screw around and gets right to the quarterback, and has no problem taking on and shedding blocks.
Seriously, a 4.39 40 with the hitting power of a truck. He hits hard, he shuts down anything coming into the middle, his closing speed and lateral movement just make you shake your head...plus he has a ridiculously cool nickname – The Abusement Park.
Remember the name Mike Mitchell, because by the time he leaves Columbus, he's going to give us some unforgettable memories and highlights alike.
Highlight Jam Session:
One Of These Things Is Blatantly False:
- Mike's younger brother, Mickey, is a highly touted sophomore with Prestonwood, and one the most sought after basketball recruits in the country
- Mike is one of 9 siblings
- Mike's dad played for the Atlanta Falcons for four years and became the first person to climb Mt. Everest after knee replacement surgery.
- Mike comes from a family of underachievers**
**If you couldn't figure out that was the blatantly false one, I can't help you.