MikeTTU and Seth have both done an outstanding job at looking at what the addition of Mike Mitchell means to Texas Tech. Now, I will look a little bit into where he may fit into the Tech 3-4 defense.
If you can remember anything that I have written about the 3-4 defense before the "Good, Bad, & Ugly" series, I was all over the versatility of the linebackers and how they make this defense tick. I was talking specifically about the outside LBs, Bandit and Raider, and how those 2 hybrid positions allow this defense to shift to cover a very wide variety of defenses without having to substitute a single player.
Mike Mitchell - Linebacker (Prestonwood Christian HS, Plano, TX)
|6'3"||222 lbs||4.45||4.25||40.3 (Highest)||140.76 (Highest)|
Mitchell has an impressive and unusual combination of size and speed. Physically, he has about the same size as Terrance Bullitt, Will Smith and Pete Robertson, and is a couple of inches taller than Sam Eguavoen. So here's where it gets tricky. If he resembles the Tech LBs, where does he fit in?
First off, Mitchell has the speed and athleticism to cover receivers and tight ends. But let's look at who is established on the depth chart here. Tech fans will probably see some combination of Kenny Williams and Austin Stewart here. Stewart has the experience and Williams has apparently done well enough in spring not to be moved back to offense only. Maybe this addition is what moves Williams back. Maybe not. My first impression would say that Mitchell probably doesn't play Raider. Likelihood that Mitchell plays Raider: 2/4
Again, I think the first place to look to see of Mitchell fits in here would be the depth chart. You've got Pete Robertson, Zach Winbush and Andre Ross. This is probably the position that MItchell has the least chance of playing at Texas Tech. All 3 incumbents have enough experience to know what they're doing on the field before Mitchell steps on campus. Likelihood that Mitchell plays Bandit: 1/4
Mike linebacker is getting closer to Mitchell's wheelhouse, and it has nothing to do with the name. From his high school tape, we see that Mitchell plays sideline to sideline. From watching Tech last season, we see the Mike LB flying all over the field and blitzing, A LOT. This could be a great fit for Mitchell. However, incumbents may keep him out. From the post-spring depth chart, we see Sam Eguavoen and Micah Awe. Now, I'm not saying Mitchell can't unseat either one of these guys, but in just one summer of work? Kind of a long shot. Next season, I think he's got a better shot here. Just not so much in 2014. Likelihood that Mitchell plays Mike: 3/4
If I am a betting man, this is where I would (at least) start working Mitchell. Think about how Will Smith played last season. I think this reflects most like Mitchell. I think he would be a great fit in the middle of this defense. Smith dropped back in coverage moreso than Eguavoen and was flying all over the field. I think the depth chart here HELPS Mitchell's chances. You've got VJ Fehoko and Malik Jenkins. I think if Mitchell is eligible to play this season, THIS is where he is, alongside Eguavoen on the inside. Likelihood that Mitchell plays Will: 4/4
This is the million dollar question, isn't it? Mitchell is transferring back to the Lone Star State and will have to sit out this season based on NCAA transfer rules. However, a waiver has been filed to have eligibility for this season. We all know how this process can work. We could hear back in a couple of days, maybe a week, or we don't hear back all summer. If Mitchell isn't granted eligibility this season, everything I have said above changes. It is very possible he plays somewhere else besides Will as each position will be in different circumstances next season. Of course, some Don Williams of the LAJ could ask Wallerstedt where Mitchell factors into the defense and he could say, "Bandit, no question," and make me look like an idiot. We'll see.