[This is the fifth in a series where The-Ozone looks back on each member of the 2018 signing class and the impact they had this past season, as well as the impact they could have this coming season.]
Teradja Mitchell came to Ohio State from Bishop Sullivan High School in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Mitchell was a High School All-American and ranked the No. 1 inside linebacker per Rivals and the No. 2 inside linebacker per the 247Sports Composite. He was the No. 44 overall player in the 2018 recruiting class. Mitchell signed with Ohio State over offers from Clemson, Alabama, LSU, Georgia, Florida, Auburn, Oklahoma, Michigan, and approximately two thousand others.
Mitchell was one of three true freshman linebackers on the team last season.
He didn’t enroll until the summer, and upon his arrival he found himself third on the depth chart behind sophomores Tuf Borland and Baron Browning at middle linebacker.
Like much of the freshman class, Mitchell didn’t see much time outside of special teams. The Buckeyes didn’t have large enough leads in the second half of games to make the position coaches willing to put the freshmen in.
Still, Mitchell embraced his roll on kick coverage.
Here is a clip.
There were very few opportunities on defense last season for Mitchell, and his role on special teams was more of a lane-maintainer and block-eliminator than a tackler. As such, he was not credited for a single tackle last year.
That will be changing in 2019, however.
So Now What
Ohio State has four new defensive coaches, which means there’s more clean slate at the WHAC than Home Depot.
Tuf Borland started 11 games at middle linebacker last season and Baron Browning started three, but the position had struggles all season long. Those issues and a new position coach in Al Washington means that jobs are open, which is where Teradja Mitchell comes in.
Washington said on Wednesday that he is just now getting to know his players because he’s been on the road recruiting since he was hired. In his process, he will also go back and look at how his players performed in the past, but everybody will have an opportunity to make an impression on the field.
This spring will be the first time that Mitchell is allowed to compete for a starting spot. Last year he didn’t enroll until the summer and was still learning the job, plus they had to make sure others were ready to start and play.
The linebackers are all learning a new defense right now, and this spring they’ll put what they’ve learned onto the field. There will be an open competition and the best man will win the job.
And for the first time in his career, that could be Mitchell.
While none of the new assistants were willing to talk about scheme, co-defensive coordinator Greg Mattison did say that there will be two inside linebackers and one outside linebacker.
In Ohio State’s recent past, the two outside linebackers — the Sam and the Will — needed to be interchangeable, which meant that both needed to be able to run and cover slot receivers and tight ends in certain situations.
Going with two inside linebackers — generally a Mike and a Will — is what Jim Tressel’s defenses utilized, which basically made the Mike and the Will very similar positions. The reason this is notable is because with this possible scheme change, we could see two of the three — if not all three — of last year’s middle linebackers starting for this defense in 2019.
In last year’s defense and the defenses previous to that, Borland is only a middle linebacker, which creates a logjam at the position. In this proposed new defensive scheme, however, Borland or any of the Mikes, could also end up at Will, thereby freeing up the logjam in the middle that we saw last year.
Just something to think about.