"I saw it," the sophomore defensive back said. "I said, 'Dang, that's me?' It looked crazy to be watching it happen to you. I don't really remember the hit. But when I watched it, I could tell I was lucky. I turned my head and I kept it up. My head didn't go down. I was lucky my head was not down."
Mitchel played for the first time last week against Kentucky and now has an open week to refine his play after the layoff.
It was not an easy task to make it back this year. Not only did Mitchel have a concussion, but he had to have his gallbladder removed in the same week after the injury against Louisiana-Monroe. In fact, he said the gall bladder surgery was the main reason it took him so long to return.
"I had actually left the hospital and my stomach started hurting and I went back," he said. "That's when they decided they needed to take it out. That's what took me so long."
Mitchel said it all has him "thanking God" that he's able to play again.
"To come back from that collision and from the gall bladder surgery, I'm thankful," he said Wednesday in his first interview since the hit. "Once I was back in a game, I was very proud of myself for making it back. I'm just glad to be back.
"I appreciate all of the fans who have been praying for me. I appreciate my teammates and my family. Everyone has been there for me. It's motivated me to come back."
Did he ever think he wouldn't return this season?
"No, not really, because our trainers and doctors all told me what was happening and how it was going," he said. "They were so good with the rehab and every step of the way. I knew I was coming back.
"I came back to the practice field and everything felt fine. They were careful with me as far as contact for awhile. I knew it was going well all the way through the process. I never had any doubts about playing this year. I felt pretty good when I got back out there at practice."
Defensive coordinator Paul Haynes said Mitchel's return has improved the intensity at practice. He said it's clear things are more intense in the battle for playing time at cornerback. Mitchel didn't start against Kentucky, but he was on the field early against the Wildcats and stayed there.
"Tevin is doing a great job," Haynes said. "He played hard. He had practiced hard. He'll be out there (against Ole Miss) and is definitely in the rotation. He's got a chance to start."
Mitchel is battling true freshman Will Hines and redshirt freshman Davyon McKinney along with senior Kaelon Kelleybrew for the two starting berths. All four are probably going to play.
"The freshmen are doing a great job," Haynes said. "Competition is awesome. It's great to have Tevin back because he makes everyone want to practice hard. It's helped those other guys."
Haynes said it was clear early on that Hines would have a chance to help the secondary. He did well in fall camp. He was forced into the starting lineup with Mitchel and Kelleybrew both out and senior Darius Winston failing to perform.
"Will is one you picked out based on what he did in high school," Haynes said. "You knew he was a guy who had a chance. He was an athlete. You don't know how fast they are going to pick it up or what the attitude will be like, but you could see he was doing well early on.
"He would give up a play or two in practice, but it didn't bother him. He continued to improve."
The open week has allowed for more practice time for the top offense against the top defense, Haynes said. Coaches call it "good on good" and it allows for game speed to show up in practice instead of a slower look by the scout team.
"We've done that more the last four or five weeks," Haynes said, "but we are probably doing it more this week. You can't get that look at speed against the scouts. It helps you simulate game speed."
Haynes said the focus won't change during the open week. He said it's also not a time to add more to the package.
"To be honest, we've done less," he said. "We want to make sure we can play fast and to do that we have cut back. We'd rather do less and play fast. There may be a team that we have to add something, but we want to make sure to be sound and tackle.
"So it's more about doing the little things right than it is about adding to the package. We don't want to throw everything at them right now. We are getting better. We are tackling better and we are in the right gaps and staying sound. That's our focus right now in the open week."
Oh, there's still thought about next week's opponent, the Ole Miss Rebels. Haynes and Mitchel know that sophomore quarterback Bo Wallace will present a challenge.
"He's going to run it and he's fast, maybe faster than he looks like on tape," Haynes said. "He may not go 80, but he's going to get 10 and 15. He helps get that team on the perimeter with the outside running game. He can run the option and we are going to have to be disciplined against him."
Mitchel said, "He's a fast guy and he is tough. He makes plays for their offense. He's a very good player."
Haynes said he's pleased with the defensive improvement, especially from the older players. He said sometimes it's about getting the seniors to "buy in" on new ideas.
"The key to playing well is about the seniors," Haynes said. "I think guys are buying in. I wished it had happened a little earlier, but I think you see confidence and leadership emerging. It's great when your seniors win your defensive awards."
That happened against Kentucky. Defensive tackle Jared Green won the Grinder Award and linebacker Terrell Williams won the Showtime Award.