Commitment from 5-Star LB Mitchell Caps Big Weekend for Buckeyes
By Brandon Castel
Eight months ago, the Buckeyes had a pair of high-profile linebackers committed to play for new head coach Urban Meyer.
Now they have two more.
After losing Alex Anzalone and Lewis Neal to sudden decommitments back in the spring, Ohio State has landed two of the best linebackers in the country on back-to-back days.
Meyer and his staff picked up a verbal commitment from 4-star Trey Johnson at the Under Amour All-America Game on Friday night. Saturday, the Buckeyes landed an even bigger fish in 5-star Texas native Mike Mitchell.
“Coach Urban has a really good program going,” Mitchell said during his live commitment on NBC.
“12-0. It’s Ohio State, a big program and they’re doing really good things.”
Considered to be one of the top defensive players in the country, Mitchell picked the Buckeyes over Texas A&M and Oregon during the fourth quarter of Saturday’s U.S. Army All-American Bowl down in San Antonio.
He had to fight local pressure to stay home and play for the Aggies instead of leaving the Lone Star State to join Meyer and Luke Fickell in Columbus. Ultimately, Mitchell could not pass up the opportunity to compete for starting linebacker spot on Ohio State’s defense the moment he steps on campus.
“I looked a lot at the depth charts of the schools that were recruiting me. I have no plans on redshirting, and I want to compete for a spot right away,” Mitchell said during midweek practices leading up to the Army Bowl.
“Playing time is really important to me, and I don't want to go to a place with seven linebackers already in the program ahead of me.”
The Buckeyes return only one starter in the front seven – all-Big Ten linebacker Ryan Shazier – and they must replace a pair of senior linebackers in Etienne Sabino and Zach Boren.
Like Boren, Mitchell will probably wear No. 44 when he gets to Columbus. That’s the number he wore at Prestonwood Christian Academy down in Plano, Tex. It’s also the number he wore for the West Team during Saturday’s Army Bowl.
At 6-4, 225 pounds, Mitchell appears to be a prototypical middle linebacker. He had over 150 tackles as a junior two years ago and over 180 as a senior down in Texas this past season. Mitchell was reportedly one of the top standout performers during practice this week, and he could compete for a starting spot at Ohio State this fall.
Scout.com has him rated as the No. 2 middle linebacker in the country, while most other recruiting services list him as an outside backer. Rivals.com has Mitchell as the No. 3 outside linebacker in the country, while 247 Sports has him at No. 8 and ESPN down at No. 10 among outside backers.
He was recruited by Fickell and by Ohio State offensive coordinator Tom Herman, who coached at Texas Lutheran University before he was hired as a graduate assistant at Texas by Mack Brown in 1999. He would also coach at Sam Houston State, Texas State and Rice before spending three years at Iowa State.
The addition of Mitchell gives the Buckeyes a number of options for the two open linebacker spots next to Shazier. Meyer brought it a solid group of rookies last year, including David Perkins, Camren Williams, Joshua Perry and Jamal Marcus.
Mitchell is the 20th ranked player in the class of 2013, and it could also help the Buckeyes on the hardwood, where his younger brother Mickey Mitchell is considered a top high school basketball prospect in the class of 2015.
Quick Headed to Louisville
While the Buckeyes landed a much-needed commitment at a key position during the Army Bowl, they missed out on another speedy wideout. Along with winning MVP of this year’s Army game, wideout James Quick also announced his decision to play for Charlie Strong at Louisville.
A product of Louisville Trinity High School down in Kentucky, Quick has a sister who runs track at UL, where his dad played football and ran track. The Buckeyes are looking for at least one more receiver in the 2013 class, and they will now turn their attention to Cleveland Heights product Shelton Gibson.
He is expected to be a Buckeye, assuming his grades are good enough, but Meyer will also take a look at kids like Cornelius Elder out of Nashville and Ryan Timmons out of Frankfurt, Ky.
Another option could be Dontre Wilson , a product of DeSoto, Tex. who could back out of his Oregon commitment if (when?) Chip Kelly bolts for the NFL.
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