Better Know A Buckeye: Mike Mitchell

By Vico on June 26, 2013 at 11:30a

Eleven Warriors presents Better Know a Buckeye 2013

Ohio State's incoming freshmen are all enrolled, taking summer courses as they orient themselves with the university's academic requirements, and are all participating in summer conditioning with Mickey Marotti and his staff. While this comment in and of itself should signal that Ohio State's 2013 football season is forthcoming, the latest installment of this series profiling the incoming freshmen, Better Know A Buckeye, should whet Ohio State fans' collective appetites about the new freshmen additions to the program.

Mike MitchellMike Mitchell

The nineteenth installment of the fifth edition of this now 24-part series profiles Mike Mitchell, a linebacker prospect from Plano, Texas. Ohio State's recruiting class has no shortage of athletic prowess. It includes guys like multi-dimensional and multi-sport, record-setting athlete Ezekiel Elliott and James Clark, who Ohio State fans may not know ran a 10.43 100m, one of the best times for any high school athlete in the country in 2012. Still, it's Mike Mitchell who may, unarguably, wear the crown of the best overall athlete in Ohio State's recruiting class.

He landed on Ohio State fans' collective radars with a dominating performance at Nike's The Opening SPARQ Combine in the summer of 2012, which came with news that he may actually commit to Ohio State that weekend. Ohio State fans would have to wait until the U.S. Army All-American Game before Mitchell pledged his signature to Ohio State on National Letter of Intent Day.

His recruitment is retold below in some detail. Thereafter, I include a breakdown of strengths and areas for improvement before including highlight film and projecting a redshirt in 2013. I conclude with some miscellaneous things about Mike Mitchell you may find interesting before concluding he is better known. I put him on the board accordingly.

Height: 6-4
Weight: 225lbs
Actual 40: 4.39
High School: Prestonwood Christian Academy; Plano, Texas


His Recruitment

Mike Mitchell's recruitment starts in earnest in the early spring of 2012. He had just recently moved to Plano, Texas from Winter Park, Florida for his junior year of high school. He had played just one season for Plano West High School before planning a transfer to Prestonwood Christian Academy for his senior year of high school. Universities in Texas and in the region were not going to be familiar with him for his football prowess. If anything, it was basketball that landed Mike Mitchell on the radar for several college football programs. Per Mike Mitchell's father, seeing Mike Mitchell dunk on guys in a high school basketball game was what led to Kevin Sumlin's program recruiting him as a college football prospect.

Several others followed suit shortly. By the first week of March, Mitchell already had offers from Baylor, Kentucky, Iowa, Iowa State, Nebraska, Southern Methodist, Texas Christian, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Southern California, UNLV, and Washington. Ohio State and Oregon, both of which would be major players in Mike Mitchell's recruitment to the end, extended offers shortly thereafter.

There were a few programs to which Mike Mitchell briefly entertained committing during the course of his recruitment. Early in his recruitment, Mike Mitchell eyed the Texas Longhorns as the marquee program for which he, as a newly minted Texan, would love to play. He had similarly high remarks for Baylor in the early spring of 2012. Ole Miss was an early favorite in his recruitment as well. In the late summer and fall of 2012, Mike Mitchell also considered Florida State a top three interest and wanted to set up a visit. For all intents and purposes, it was a three-team race among Oklahoma, Ohio State, and Texas A&M for Mike Mitchell's signature on National Letter of Intent Day. These are three of four schools Mitchell said he was considering by October 2012 and they are given priority in the synopsis that follows.

That Mike Mitchell's recruitment made it to that point in October, let alone the U.S. Army All-American Game of January of this year, was surprising given how quickly things were unfolding in Ohio State's favor through the summer of 2012. Though Mitchell wished to attend a college close to his new home in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, it seemed less and less likely he would. His interest in Texas A&M through the summer was genuine, though his interest in Ohio State was Oregon was more pronounced.

The interest in Ohio State was particularly strong. Though Mitchell had yet to visit Columbus, Ohio, he maintained a regular relationship through electronic media with Ohio State's staff. He would routinely exchange Facebook messages. His father even quipped about how often he would walk in the door of his home and hear his son on Skype with Urban Meyer or Tom Herman, the Buckeye assistant responsible for (and very successful in) recruiting Texas. Mitchell was shrewd in how he conducted himself during interviews with various recruiting services, and maintained an interest in other programs through the summer, but the interest in Ohio State seemed really strong. That it seemed to have been building toward an early commitment to Ohio State was rather surprising.

This came to a head during Nike's SPARQ combine, known as The Opening. The Opening, set in Nike World Headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon, features some of the best high school football prospects in the country competing against each other in various athletic drills. The timing was something of a perfect storm. Ohio State fans who may not follow recruiting that closely first heard of Mike Mitchell around this time and at this combine, which was broadcast on ESPN's family of networks.

Mitchell introduced himself to Ohio State fans in style at this event. Mitchell simply crushed the competition and seemed to get better with each new drill as the event progressed. It culminated in a 4.39 (!) 40-yard dash to cement his place as SPARQ national champion in 2012. The next closest performer at the event was Alabama commit/signee Altee Tenpenny, whose score of 144.99 was a distant second to Mitchell's score of 154.47. The next closest score was another Alabama commit and signee, Derrick Henry, who finished with a score of 144.60. No one else came within ten points of Mitchell at that event or any other SPARQ combine thereafter. That Mitchell also so far outpaced two Alabama commits, who would have otherwise gone #1 and #2 in SPARQ's national champion leaderboard, also saved us all from another hubris-filled talking point from Alabama fans.

For Ohio State fans, it was even better that he seemed like such a strong Ohio State lean and could commit to the Buckeyes that weekend.

While the interest in Ohio State persisted, no decision was forthcoming. He had been trying to schedule a visit to Ohio State shortly after The Opening. That never materialized. Once again, commitment rumors started to swirl when Mike Mitchell attended the Gridiron Kings 7-on-7 event at Lake Buena Vista, Florida. Ohio State fans were disappointed when this even came and went without a verbal commitment from Mike Mitchell. The interest remained, but Mitchell again reiterated he needed to see Columbus, Ohio for himself before making that decision. Mitchell wanted to be closer to his Plano, Texas home, but would have the blessing of his parents to leave for a more distant program, like Ohio State, after he had been able to see the university for himself.

Mike Mitchell's dominating performance at The Opening, followed by his showing at Gridiron Kings, was bound to increase his appeal to several programs closer to his home. The one program that renewed and intensified its recruitment of Mitchell was Oklahoma. Mitchell and Oklahoma's coaches lost contact with each other when Brent Venables left Oklahoma for Clemson, but the offer was back on the table from Oklahoma by August 8th. He took an unofficial visit to Oklahoma three days later. The visit left quite the impression. Mitchell enjoyed his chat with Oklahoma offensive lineman Austin Woods, whose bout with cancer became a rallying cry for the Sooners' program. The big lure of Oklahoma, beyond its depth chart and marquee football program status, was the issue of distance. Mitchell wanted to be closer to home. Norman, Oklahoma is just three hours north on I-35 from Plano, Texas. Columbus, Ohio is a plane flight or an all-day drive.

The visit went so well that Mitchell scheduled Oklahoma as his first official visit, which took place on October 13th. This was the weekend of the Red River Rivalry game against Texas in the Cotton Bowl. The nature of that game, a 63-21 humiliating blowout of the Longhorns on national television, impressed Mitchell. He had nice things to say about how Oklahoma's defense had taken away Texas' running game. While Mitchell genuinely enjoyed his visit, nothing he said was effusive or glowing. He looked forward to taking more official visits.

He visited Texas A&M the next week for A&M's game against Louisiana State. The visit allowed Mitchell to see Texas A&M's game atmosphere, which impressed Mitchell. The nature of the contest itself also impressed Mitchell. Though the Aggies lost the game against Louisiana State, they were competitive even in defeat. It opened the eyes of Mitchell, who, like many analysts, expected that Texas A&M would struggle to compete in the Southeastern Conference. Mitchell did not get a lot of one-on-one time with Kevin Sumlin, but he did get to talk with Texas A&M's linebackers coach, Matt Wallerstedt. In this conversation, Wallerstedt reiterated A&M's need for linebackers and how Mitchell would thrive for the Aggies' defense, even in nickel situations.

Still, Mitchell had yet to schedule a visit to Ohio State. This visit loomed large. Even as Mitchell entertained other opportunities, like those at Texas A&M and Oklahoma, his interest in Ohio State never wavered. When asked by a recruiting analyst after one of his high school football games to give a top three, Mitchell mentioned Ohio State first. As good as Mitchell was at choosing his words wisely when pressed by recruiting analysts, this is usually an informative signal of interest, provided the setting and recruiting analyst are neutral (as it was in this occasion). All that was left was for Mike Mitchell to actually schedule the official visit to Ohio State, which would be his first visit to the university that seemed to always lead for his signature on National Letter of Intent Day.

Mike Mitchell, Gareon Conley, Billy Price, and Evan Lisle celebrate a 12-0 season.Mitchell and future teammates celebrate a 12-0 season.

The visit actually came on the weekend of December 7-8, 2012. It was preceded by an in-home visit from Tom Herman and Luke Fickell the previous week. By all accounts, the visit was a blast and everything Mitchell would have wanted and anticipated when trying to schedule that visit in July.

One of the first orders of business was to attend the 12-0 celebration that Ohio State's football program had created for the weekend. At this visit, he was photographed in the stands, taking in the festivities, and in the company of future teammates Billy Price, Evan Lisle, and Gareon Conley (with Amy Halpin and the Elliott family in tow).

The visit included several other events. Importantly, Mitchell met with coaches and academic advisers. He also attended the Ohio State basketball game against Long Beach State that same weekend. When Mitchell was able to find time to call his dad about the visit, he could only muster the energy to describe the weekend as "crazy". The weekend had worn him out, but in a good way.

Not long after the visit, Mike Mitchell seemed to know where he wanted to go. All projections pointed to Ohio State. He announced that his decision would come during the U.S. Army All-American Game. Despite some reluctance over whether he is 100% ready, he seemed essentially certain of his choice. He talked about Ohio State with Eleven Warriors on the eve of his commitment.

His Commitment

Linebacker Mike Mitchell is all Buckeye

During the U.S. Army All-American Game, Mike Mitchell ended the suspense and selected an Ohio State cap off a white table. He committed to Ohio State over other offers, choosing Ohio State over offers from Oklahoma and Texas A&M, among others.

Eleven Warriors interviewed Mike Mitchell after his decision was made to ask him why he selected the Buckeyes.

What was the overriding factor that made you choose Ohio State over Texas A&M?

All three of the schools I had out there were great programs (Ohio State, Texas A&M and Oregon) and have great coaches and great facilities. Anywhere you would have gone would have been awesome. It mostly came down to where I felt I fit in best and was most comfortable. Ohio State was that school I felt comfortable at and felt I belonged.


Ohio State lost two starting linebackers from the 2012 team and didn’t have much depth either. How much did that play in your decision?

It’s a good opportunity (because I can possibly play as a freshman). You want to be smart about your decision, and I felt that was the best opportunity.


The Buckeyes were the leader in your clubhouse throughout the recruiting process. How important was your official visit in December?

You could say it sealed the deal. I knew it was a great school and that just confirmed all the thoughts I had about it.

His commitment was the nineteenth of the recruiting class and followed the commitment of Trey Johnson by a day. With his commitment and eventual signature on National Letter of Intent Day, Ohio State got the Rivals #1 prospect from Texas and a 5-star recruit.

Where He Excels

The obvious comment to make here is that Mike Mitchell's excellence in athletics makes me feel very inadequate by comparison. Ohio State signed Ezekiel Elliott, who a record-setting athlete from St. Louis who has won big in football, basketball, and track and field. It also signed James Clark, whose 10.43 100m time as a junior was one of the best times of any athlete in the entire country. To date, this Better Know A Buckeye series has said very little of Dontre Wilson, whose best 200m time as a junior (21.15) was one of the best times of any athlete in the country as well. That's no shortage of eye-opening talent that Ohio State signed in 2013, and Mike Mitchell might wear the crown as most athletic of them all.

Here's one such metric to express his athleticism, beyond reference to his SPARQ national championship in 2012. At the TAPPS State Track & Field Championships held this May, Mitchell finished third in his alphanumeric designation (5A) with a 100m time of 10.95 while running with a 6-4 and 225lb frame. Ezekiel Elliott won a Missouri State Track & Field Championship to go with St. Louis' distinction of Male Athlete of the Year with a 100m time of 11.03. Mitchell beat him. That 10.95 for Mitchell would even beat Dontre Wilson's times from when he was a sophomore, though it appears Wilson focused more on 200m as an upperclassmen.

However, being a linebacker for a major college football program is more than being a workout warrior. Mitchell's athleticism and frame project well on the football field. He's not shy of using the full force of his size and speed to collide with ball carriers. At 6-4 and 225lbs, with the possibility of playing, and playing well, at 240-245lbs, Mitchell could thrive at a middle linebacker position. He's also athletic enough to play well as an outside linebacker and remain on the field in nickel situations.

Must Work On​

Mike Mitchell spent a lot of time just being the best athlete on the football field. This meant a lot of time playing running back, and some time even playing tight end and rush end. It's unclear just how much of a "linebacker" he really is at the moment.

This is really the universal knock on Mike Mitchell from recruiting analysts who otherwise marvel at his athleticism. Mitchell only started playing football, at any level, in eighth grade. This lends itself to the ubiquitous "raw" label for Mitchell. You'll see this in his attempts at pass coverage. He doesn't demonstrate much confidence in his drops at all.

This leads to another commentary on his football "instincts", which may be underdeveloped. His "react" is still phenomenal and his athleticism allows him a margin of error. However, his "read" needs to be developed to better complement his "react". This is really his goal at Ohio State: to go from athlete to linebacker.

It may be worth underlining those sentences just to curb Ohio State fans' collective enthusiasm to see Mike Mitchell play as a freshman. Observers have also praised Mike Mitchell for being a fast learner and very attentive to coaching. His immediate success is really contingent on just how fast he can learn. If he can learn his role quickly, his athleticism may make him the second coming of Andy Katzenmoyer for Ohio State football fans. His ceiling is very high.


Senior year.


All else equal: no. Whatever comment can be made about Mitchell's nascent development as a linebacker won't be generalizable to special teams duties. The task of a kickoff team gunner is fairly simple: stay in your lane and make everyone in your path wish they weren't born. At a bare minimum, Mitchell is on special teams and might even be a standout.


I think Mike Mitchell is better known.

The More You Know

Let's put him on the board.

Name POS Ht Wt Hometown Committed Better Known
Cameron Burrows DB 5'11 200 Trotwood, OH 01.19.12 02.19.13
Jalin Marshall WR 5'11 196 Middletown, OH 01.30.12 02.26.13
Billy Price DT 6'4 300 Austintown, OH 02.13.12 03.05.13
Eli Apple DB 6-1 188 Voorhees, NJ 02.16.12 03.12.13
Evan Lisle OL 6-5 280 Centerville, OH 02.28.12 03.19.13
Jayme Thompson S 6-2 184 Toledo, OH 04.01.12 03.26.13
Ezekiel Elliott RB 6-0 195 St. Louis, MO 04.01.12 04.02.13
Marcus Baugh TE 6-4 233 Riverside, CA 04.10.12 04.09.13
Tracy Sprinkle DE 6-3 255 Elyria, OH 04.17.12 04.17.13
J.T. Barrett QB 6-1 230 Wichita Falls, TX 04.18.12 04.24.13
Joey Bosa DE 6-5 270 Ft. Lauderdale, FL 04.23.12 05.01.13
Darron Lee ATH 6-3 205 New Albany, OH 06.26.12 05.08.13
Michael Hill DT 6-3 315 Pendleton, SC 06.27.12 05.15.13
Timothy Gardner OL 6-5 310 Indianapolis, IN 07.28.12 05.22.13
Tyquan Lewis DE 6-3 237 Tarboro, NC 09.20.12 05.29.13
Gareon Conley CB 6-1 180 Massillon, OH 12.07.12 06.05.13
Donovan Munger DT 6-4 285 Shaker Heights, OH 12.09.12 06.12.13
Trey Johnson LB 6-2 225 Lawrenceville, GA 01.04.13 06.19.13
Mike Mitchell LB 6-4 225 Plano, TX 01.05.13 06.26.13



Comments Show All Comments

Hovenaut's picture

I'm high on the entire 2013 class, but really eager to see the "Abusement Park" in action.

He has the potential to become one of the great Buckeye linebackers when it's all said and done....and that's obviously saying something.

Look out for #44 very soon folks.

AndyVance's picture

Ditto - this young man really has me excited to watch what our vaunted linebacker corps does to opposing offenses in the coming years.

Chief B1G Dump's picture

With his size and speed, he should probably apply for his license to kill. 
Cant wait for this kid to do work. 

dan_isaacs's picture

I'll settle for Tito Paul like destruction of KR and PR as a frosh.

Dan Isaacs

GoBucksToledo's picture

Awesome and thanks Vico!  This was one recruit whose BKAB I was really waiting for.

rekrul's picture

Gotta love a LB'r who can return kicks and run away from people.  7 Forced fumbles 0.o

Out Work, Out Think, Out Play!!!

chirobuck's picture

Billy Price looks like if he wanted to he could eat that small child in front of him...
...I'm glad I'm not a B1G Olineman


^ best post ever ^

CC's picture

BP is a man.

Young_Turk's picture

Surprised Kiffen didn't offer them based on the middle school football video.


osuxrow07's picture

This probably elevates me to creeper status, but Mike Mitchell graduated from PCA with my cousin. I got a chance to see this kid recently and my family filled me in on some of his athletic accomplishments, much of which you highlighted here. That was more than enough to make me super excited that he is a Buckeye. PCA has produced some ridiculous athletes and has one of the state's top HS basketball programs. The fact that basketball is what sparked his recruitment at PCA makes it even more interesting. This kid is going to be a special player. Can't wait to see what he does! Welcome Mike!

Set the Earth Reverberating

SilverBulletNYC's picture

I don't think he will make an immediate impact like the Big Kat, but I think Mitchell can be a great one.

The South will NOT rise again!

saevel25's picture

My only issue is, he's 6'-4" tall, and he looks like he tackles high. That might be because of highschool, but most RB's are under 6-4, and he might have a hard time tackling if he doesn't get lower and get some leverage. Like most outstanding prospects, he gets away with it in highschool. But you get hit by a big ten running back, lowering his shoulder, standing high like that will be an issue.
Besides technique, he's a freak, great to have him aboard!!!

pjtobin's picture

I like his form. He swallows players up. He wraps just under pads and uses their momentum to slam them down. I bet his wing span is 6'6". Easily gets total wrap up. I'm not a coach or a expert. I'm not saying your wrong. I just wanted to say what I thought. 

Bury me in my away jersey, with my buckeye blanket. A diehard who died young. Rip dad. 

SaltyD0gg's picture

I say we call him "The Itch" because there's no MI allowed on this team.

Pain of Discipline

Pain of Regret

Take Your Pick

CC's picture

I don't know why but I am rooting for this kid so much but I love the fact that he's a freak athlete but seemingly very humble.
Would love to see him have a "Big Kat" freshman year.

LDKirkpatrick's picture

I often find myself thinking 'who was the best athlete from the 2013 class'? The point is that there is so much great talent I cant say, that one particular athlete over an other is it. I personally cannot wait to see what this class does for the University and the B1G. Mike Mitchell is a beast and will walk away from OSU with a lot of great memories!

CC's picture

I have the same thought.  We'll see if this class was better than the Pryor class over the next few years.
It may be that they are that good or it may be that they are just so much more hyped with all the recruiting coverage.
To put it in perspective, when I was in high school (1994) there was basically one national rag available on recruiting (super prep).  Today you know what the 1000th best player is having for lunch.

pjtobin's picture

I can't wait to see him dismember any scum player. We can chant "finish him" , as he rips  Gardner s spine out. 
What a sick thought and even worse visual! Lol

Bury me in my away jersey, with my buckeye blanket. A diehard who died young. Rip dad. 

rekrul's picture

Flawless MITCHory!!!

Out Work, Out Think, Out Play!!!

pjtobin's picture

Though I preferred street fighter, mortal combat was a sweet game. And your flawless mitchory is awesome!

Bury me in my away jersey, with my buckeye blanket. A diehard who died young. Rip dad. 

UrbanBuckeye's picture

Brady Hoke says Mike Mitchell's 4.39 is too fast for Mike to be a Michigan WR.

Vonn Bell once asked me in class if he could borrow my pencil and he never gave it back. Ain't even mad.

Knarcisi's picture

But first to the front of the buffet line. 

Dougger's picture

Vico wasn't Elliot's 100m final both against the wind and in rain? I think comparing guys in different races are tough; the elements and previous events ran has to be taken into consideration
Edit: regardless of this, they're both extremely talented and I'm excited at the very least to see Mitchell sprint as fast as he can down a football field and try to hit another human being with a different color uniform. can't wait to see all of their development....August 31st get here faster

I like football

WezBuck28's picture

Don't take this the wrong way fellas, but I can't wait to see Mitchell's physical appearance after a couple years of coach mick wearing him out...and BP looks like a freakin beast in those stands, only thing missing is the bull ring in his nose...I'm super pumped to watch these dudes in August!

osubuck57's picture

So jacked to see this kid on the field!! Visions of him face-planting Gardner and their running game!!


AJBor41's picture

While earning 3rd place honors in the 100m dash, Mitchell also won the state title in the shot put.  Not a bad combination of speed and strength, as noted with the SPARQ events.

Stinson's picture

"The height of human desire is what wins, whether it's on Normandy Beach or in Ohio Stadium." -Wayne Woodrow Hayes

Golden Buckeye's picture

Fun Fact:
Mitchell was confused as to why the Ohio State mail was always on top of all the other mail in the mailbox.  After he committed, it he found out that his neighbor was a Buckeye fan.

Stinson's picture

I thought it was the mailman..
Either way, that's so awesome. 

"The height of human desire is what wins, whether it's on Normandy Beach or in Ohio Stadium." -Wayne Woodrow Hayes

pjtobin's picture

That is awesome! I hope our new beast sends some team autographed letters home to his neighbor. 

Bury me in my away jersey, with my buckeye blanket. A diehard who died young. Rip dad. 

Golden Buckeye's picture

EDIT: Mailman was a Buckeye fan*
I don't know why I wrote neighbor, thanks for the catch haha

BuckSince79's picture

Don't think it was his neighbor.  I actually think it was his mail man that was the Buckeye fan.  Splitting hairs I know, but what are the chances your mail man is a Buckeye fan and cleverly has been putting all OSU material to the top.

Edincostarica's picture

He is already one my favorite Buckeyes.


southernstatesbuckeye's picture

Wait a minute.  He looks suspiciously like Tom Cruise in the photo above!

I like cookies.

thatlillefty's picture

This kid has 8 siblings, and his brother is a stud basketball player??
Hopefully, Thad signs his brother Mickey, and the rest come play football - a la, the Boren brothers. That might open up a pretty sweet TX pipeline.

gumtape's picture

Kid reminds me a lot of brian urlacher. Similar frame and athletic ability. Urlacher also returned kicks in high school and college.
That would be pretty good.

High and tight boo boo

Wilkins78's picture

I'm getting more of an A.J. Hawk vibe from Mr. Mitchell.  Hopefully he continues to learn and is able to play some coverage and read the game well.

bucknut24's picture

Can't wait to see him blow someone up on special teams.  He's like the Waterboy!

tdible2132's picture

This kid will be one heck of a special teams player right off the bat, and will be the best LB in the B1G when all is said and done IMO.  I am that confident in his ability to pick up the nuances of the LB position.  Coach him up Luke! 

2002osubuck's picture

This whole class from top to bottom is one of the best I've ever seen in my 33 years on earth. This kids gonna be one of the best we had, when he gets some proper coaching will be a complete terror on D. 

buckskin's picture

Sub 11 100 meter dash combined with a state title in the shot put?  Amazing, simply amazing.  Move over Mr. Kearse, the new freak has arrived!  
Hopefully his career will be as bright as another big man who was also a sprinter, Jim Lachey.

input4u's picture

Umm... Apple doesn't fall from the Tree???  Sounds like his dad is a beast in his own regards from the link I read about Ken.  He played Baseball in the minors and in the NFL.  Then competed in IronMan events.  After Knee replacement climbed Mount Everest.  I think is safe to say that Dad is a very positive influence on getting the most out of that athleticism.  Wow.. can't wait...

HighBallAce's picture

One of those highlight reels shows the Gilmer Buckeyes! Just goes to show how good they really are! Although I think Prestonwood won that game?

osubuckeye4life's picture

The Abusement Park is set to the tour of the Midwest this Fall. 
Get your tickets now!! To witness the freakshow! You won't believe your eyes and you might have to check to see if your teeth are still in place after the "boom".