According to reports, former Ohio St. linebacker Mike Mitchell is down to three schools, Texas Tech, Baylor and Texas A&M. If you are looking for insight as to his decision, I've heard good things for Texas Tech, but those are just things and I hear more incorrect things that correct things on stuff like this.
Since Mitchell attended Texas Tech's spring game, I've been thinking about what this could mean for the Red Raiders. It's silly to dream all that much, but sometimes I can't help myself.
I'm trying to equate Mitchell's star status and this would be getting a player like Jarrett Stidham on the defense. Stidham's current composite ranking from 24/7 Sports is 0.9824, while Mitchell's at Prestonwood Christian was 0.9726. What we're talking about here is percentage points of difference. And you could go ahead and throw in Breiden Fehoko's composite rating of 0.9719.
You'll never be able to convince me that difference makers on both sides of the ball don't make the difference between winning and losing. Being just a little bit better than your opponent up and down the line of scrimmage makes a difference. But that sort of thing starts one player at a time. That's how it starts. It starts with a Stidham and a Fehoko making a difference and once you get one, you try to get another.
For me, it's the reason why Michael Crabtree and Graham Harrell were so important to that magical 2008 team. There were better, in almost every game, than who they lined up against each and every play. There was really no question about it.
The same applies for guys like Stidham and Mitchell and Fehoko. They are unique and special athletes. I know the attitude sometimes prevails that you'd love to have 2-star guys that work hard, but the success of 2-star guys that make a huge impact on a consistent basis isn't as common as 4-star and 5-star guys doing the same thing.
Athletes like Mitchell just don't happen that often and they especially don't happen that often for Texas Tech. Mitchell is 6-4/222 coming in out of high school and he's probably heavier now after a year at Ohio St. I know that all of our 40-times are fake, but even assuming that it is somewhat fake, Mitchell has consistently been timed at 4.45 to 4.50. That's ridiculously fast for someone his size.
Again, it's these sorts of players that eventually make a huge difference in a program. And the point shouldn't be that each and everyone of these high level players are going to guaranteed to be absolute stars, but the chances are much better. Sometimes it just takes one or two to elevate a program and I can't think of a defensive player to have this sort of impact on the program, excluding Fehoko, who I think has similar talent.
The Depth Chart
The thing that I can't get around is how this would affect the depth chart. Obviously, this would be a good problem to have. I think we can leave out the Bandit and the Raider linebacker spots. Not because I don't think that Mitchell is capable of playing either of those spots, but because I think his skill set is suited for either the Mike or Will linebacker spots. The fact that there are options, which would moving either Eguavoen or Fehoko around to the point that either could be moved around a bit is incredibly significant. I’m not sure that Fehoko is a three-down player and behind him is Malik Jenkins.
I think that Mitchell is a three-down player and I could envision a situation where Mitchell could go up and down the linebacker spot, maybe even playing the Bandit linebacker spot and see what his pass-rush capabilities are like in certain situations. He would essentially be a wild-card from any spot on the field. And the reason why Mitchell's addition could be so important is because of the way he can take on offensive linemen. For me, this is the biggest difference between Mitchell and just about any player on the roster. Mitchell's ability to take on offensive linemen and win is unlike other linebackers on this team. Stick him at WLB or MLB and you'd never take him off the field.
At this point, all I can write about his Mitchell's potential. That's one of those things that you say about a player unless that player has played and with Mitchell redshirting last year, we don't get that opportunity to discuss what he can do. Mitchell signed with Ohio St. with the intent on playing. His father being a former player and there were expectations that Mitchell wouldn't just play at Ohio St., but maybe start. That never materialized during the course of the year. And make no mistake, Mitchell's father has expectations. That's a good thing. Those sorts of expectations.
Of course, that's the part about recruiting that is tough because each player has potential. Some more than others and Mitchell has it in spades.
Mitchell is a building block. And so is Fehoko and so is Stidham. You hope that they build off of each other. This is what makes Fehoko's commitment and Mitchell's interest so danged intriguing. Texas Tech has had good players on defense, but Fehoko and Mitchell would start something special. Difference makers on defense has been a rare occurrence for Texas Tech. It would be pretty danged awesome to land both and with Mitchell, we won't have to wait very long as he is set to decide the first part of June.