The future stars of Ohio State football officially begin their college careers as standouts from all over the country put pens to their National Letters of Intent.
Ohio State's struggles at the linebacker position during the 2017 season have been well-documented, but so has the Buckeyes' rich tradition of developing All-Americans and NFL players at the position.
Teradja Mitchell could play a big part in helping the Buckeyes get back to their usual standard of linebacker play.
The Mitchell File
- Class: 2018
- Size: 6-foot-2, 232 pounds
- Pos: LB
- School: Bishop Sullivan (Virginia Beach, VA)
- Composite Rating: ★★★★
- Composite Rank: 2 (ILB)
The four-star recruit from Virginia Beach, Virginia, is among the top-rated signees in Ohio State's class of 2018, and is among the likeliest signees to make an immediate impact as a true freshman.
While Ohio State offered Mitchell before he even began his sophomore year at Bishop Sullivan Catholic High School, he didn't hear much from the Buckeyes over the subsequent year. In a since-deleted tweet on May 26, 2016, however, Mitchell made his interest in potentially becoming a Buckeye clear, tweeting simply: "I wanna visit Ohio State."
Mitchell had already visited Florida State, North Carolina and Virginia Tech among others at the time, but Ohio State's tradition of developing pro players at his position – particularly under then-Buckeyes linebackers coach Luke Fickell – had caught his eye.
"Fickell develops linebackers," Mitchell said. "It is a school that puts players in the draft like it's nothing. I'm very interested in the school."
After making it known that he had an eye on the Buckeyes, Mitchell had much more contact with Ohio State over the course of his junior year, ultimately narrowing his decision down to Ohio State and Florida State – even after Fickell left the program and was replaced by former NFL linebackers coach Bill Davis – when he announced his final two in May.
"[I'm] still torn between Florida State and Ohio State," Mitchell told Eleven Warriors at the time. "Both schools can develop me into the best person I can be. They both are championship contenders and they have great business programs."
Although many recruiting insiders believed he was trending toward Florida State going into his June 2 announcement, Mitchell ultimately chose the Buckeyes, making him the second linebacker commitment and 12th overall commitment in Ohio State's 2018 class.
After making his announcement, Mitchell told Recruit757 that he chose Ohio State because he believed it would provide him with the better academic opportunities.
"With Ohio State you get the best of both worlds as far as football and academics," Mitchell said. "Both schools could develop me into a first-round draft pick and contend for a national championship, so it came down to academics for me, and Ohio State has a top business school."
Mitchell also said he believed he would have the opportunity to compete right away for a starting spot at Ohio State.
"I've done my research," Mitchell said. "They have three linebackers that are supposed to leave for the draft next year. The opportunity is there. For Urban Meyer, you have to work for everything. I'm ready to go in there and get that spot."
At 6-foot-2 and 232 pounds, Mitchell has been described as a defensive back in a middle linebacker's body. His athleticism enables him to make plays from sideline to sideline, and his instincts to recognize plays quickly help him get to the ball even faster.
Although Ohio State is losing Chris Worley after this season and could potentially lose Jerome Baker to the NFL draft too, Mitchell will still face plenty of competition to get on the field as a freshman. Along with Tuf Borland, Malik Harrison and Dante Booker, who have all seen significant playing time for the Buckeyes this year, candidates for increased playing time at linebacker include 2017 five-star linebacker signee Baron Browning as well as Keandre Jones, Pete Werner and Justin Hilliard.
The fact that Ohio State has struggled more than expected at linebacker this season, however, increases the likelihood that there will be a wide open competition for playing time at that position going into 2018. Additionally, Mitchell should be a top candidate to earn a role on special teams even if he doesn't earn regular playing time on defense as a freshman.
During his interview with the Eleven Warriors community earlier this week, Mitchell fielded readers' questions about a wide variety of subjects, including what kind of music he likes to listen to before a game.
"I try not to get too hype before the game. I try to start it off slow and progress my way to the hype. Start off with 'Knockin’ the Boots' by H-Town and progress my way to something like 'Glow Up' by Meek Mill," Mitchell said.
Asked who he tries to model his game after, Mitchell went with a former Alabama and current San Francisco 49ers linebacker, though he doesn't try to emulate anyone too much.
"I try to be the best Teradja Mitchell I can be, but (if) I had to say someone, it’d definitely be Reuben Foster," Mitchell said.
Asked who his favorite former Ohio State linebacker is, however, Mitchell didn't hesitate in his response.
"Hands down, Ryan Shazier," Mitchell said.