Two in two days for Ohio State, as they landed 4-star Virginia Beach linebacker Teradja Mitchell Friday night. Mitchell’s commitment comes on the heals of Thursday night’s commitment from Florida defensive end Andrew Chatfield. The recruitment of Mitchell was one that was back and forth until the very end, with the decision ultimately falling between Florida State and the Buckeyes. Mitchell becomes the 12th member of this highly-regarded recruiting class, and becomes the first commitment from the state of Virginia in 2018.
What kind of impact will Mitchell’s commitment have on Ohio State now and moving forward?
Mitchell is a 6-foot-2 243-pound inside linebacker from Virginia Beach, Virginia. He is ranked as the No. 2 inside linebacker in the class of 2018 and is the No. 2 prospect from the state of Virginia. He becomes Ohio State’s sixth top 40 recruit and joins Toledo’s Dallas Gant as the second linebacker in this class. With the commitment of Mitchell, the Buckeyes strengthened their position at No. 2 in the 247Sports recruiting rankings. Despite having five fewer commitments than the Miami Hurricanes, the Buckeyes are within striking distance of the No. 1 class.
For a while it seemed like Mitchell was a done deal to the Seminoles, who recruit the Newport News area very well. Florida State was one of the first schools to offer him way back in 2015. They worked hard to build relationships with him leading up to his commitment. He made at least four trips to Tallahassee to see the campus, while only making two trips to Columbus. His last visit was to FSU in early May, and a flurry of crystal ball projections came in for the Seminoles after that visit. In the end, however, what the Buckeyes had to offer on and off the field won out.
“It was a hard decision,” Mitchell told Adam Friedman with Rivals. “It came down to life after football. I felt like I made a 40-year decision instead of a four-year decision by picking Ohio State. I feel like you can’t beat their programs for life after football.”
I see a Raekwon McMillan-type player when I watch Mitchell play. He possesses the ability to lay the wood and defend over the middle. He will certainly help solidify the Buckeyes’ needs over the next few years. McMillan was an instant-impact recruit when he came out of Georgia in 2014. I can see the same out of Mitchell. They are almost identical in height and weight, and McMillan was also a huge asset in the middle of the field.
There has been plenty of criticism of Mitchell lately. At the Opening last month he showed up a little overweight and clocked in a 5.01 in the 40-yard dash. When he hits the Ohio State weight room and nutritional table under Mickey Marrotti, he will lose some of that weight and pick up some speed. The scouting report on him is that he is a very smart player who can diagnose the play quickly. He can go sideline to sideline and takes great angles on ball carriers. He will continue to refine those skills during his senior year at Bishop Sullivan and will look to contribute right away like McMillan did.
Ohio State is set to lose Chris Worley, and possibly Jerome Baker and Dante Booker after this season. That has intensified the coaching staff’s search for the nation’s top talent at linebacker. With the additions of Dallas Gant and Teradja Mitchell, they have two pieces of that puzzle in place. While Gant is an outside linebacker, Mitchell will roam the interior for three to four seasons in Columbus. The Buckeyes are likely not done at linebacker, either. However, that will depend on Baker and Booker returning or going after this season.
The Buckeyes landed Baron Browning and Pete Werner last year, so they are building quite the talent at the position. Both Browning and Werner were listed as inside linebackers, but could end up inside or outside. Mitchell wants to enroll early, but as of right now that will not happen. If he can enroll early and get working, he could see the field as a true freshman in a big role.
The Depth Chart
If what happens above comes true and all three starting linebackers depart for the NFL, Ohio State will be in a unique situation having to replace a whole starting unit. While they have been basically doing that in the defensive backfield for the past two seasons, they have not had that same problem in the middle of the defense. There is a lot of young unproven talent right now in Bill Davis’s linebacker room, and we should get to see some of those young pups perform this year. What we see out of them this season will go a long way to tell if Mitchell or Gant see the field early next season.
Mitchell certainly has the frame and ability to provide an instant impact as a true freshman. The last big-time linebacker recruit out of Virginia was Curtis Grant in 2011, and we all saw how long that transition took. I am not saying that Mitchell will end up like Grant, who ended up finishing his career with Ohio State on a high note. If he keeps his head down, and is willing to learn the OSU way, he can certainly be a superstar in college.
If the start of Bill Davis’s recruiting career at Ohio State is any indication, then Ohio State fans are in for a treat. For a guy who never recruited before to land both Gant and Mitchell says something about his work ethic and background. The way Ohio State is recruiting on the defense over the past few seasons is going to cause Big Ten coaches to lose sleep wondering how they will score.
As Mitchell is the 12th commitment for the Buckeyes, the class is nearly half full already. We still have to await the decisions of offensive lineman Jackson Carman, tight end Jeremy Ruckert, cornerback Anthony Cook, and defensive end Tyreke Smith, as well as many others.
Will this start the flurry of commitments for the Buckeyes? It is safe to say that they will certainly save some spots for the guys listed, but there won’t be room for everyone. If prospects are planning on waiting too long, then there might not be room left at the inn. It is going to be an interesting few months for Ohio State, so if you enjoy recruiting, buckle up. It’s about to get even more exciting.