Mitchell poised to be LSU's next big star

Jared Mitchell will likely be a star receiver on the LSU football team in the fall.

But right now, the future star is shining brightest on the baseball diamond. 


LSU baseball concluded its third weekend series of the season on Saturday with a 5-4 loss, but the game almost went the other way following a rip to right field by Mitchell that placed the freshman on second with one out remaining. The Tigers didn't win the game with the next batter, but Mitchell jumpstarted his team following six scoreless innings.


"I like being one of the guys that is counted on to produce," Mitchell said. "It's fun and it's a challenge for me, and that is what keeps me going."


The freshman from New Iberia is having a breakout year in center field and at the plate. He offers speed and power to a team average in those areas.  When his God-given ability to play the game is added to the equation, he is no average player.


"Look at him right now," said teammate Michael Hollander. "He is really not struggling at all. He is becoming more and more comfortable every day. You're going to fall a lot in baseball; you just have to pick your head up and come back out the next day and play again."


Just this past weekend, Mitchell displayed many of his athletic strengths to his coaches, teammates and fans in attendance.


On Saturday, the slugger slammed a home run over the right field wall of Alex Box Stadium that looked like it would go through the giant Intimidator advertisement. The next day, the former high school quarterback showcased his speed when head coach Paul Mainieri sent him home while rounding third on a routine single. Mitchell slid in safe at home plate, wowing a cheering Alex Box crowd.


"It was basically a hustle play," Mitchell said. "Coach Mainieri thanked me after."


He has the second best hitting average behind Blake Dean at .333 in 42 at bats, collected 14 hits in 10 games, crossed home plate 10 times with one double and one home run, and has a .429 slugging average.


"For me, it's just coming out here every day and working hard," Mitchell said. "If you work hard every day, then good things are bound to happen. Lucky for me they are happening early. I'm excited about it, and hopefully it will pan out."


Mitchell's play continues to improve with each game, but this wouldn't be if not for an important decision he made over the summer.


On June 6, Mitchell was drafted by Major League Baseball's Minnesota Twins in the 10th round as the 306th overall pick. However, he also signed a letter of intent to play football for LSU on Feb. 2, 2006.


Mitchell had his options. If he decided to wear purple and gold, not only would he be able to play college football, but also college baseball. If he chose to play minor league ball, he could have signed a hefty contract.


In the end, Mitchell knew he was a Tiger.


"It came down to me noticing that this is where I need to be," Mitchell said. "This is going to open a whole lot of doors for me a few years from now. Just also to have that chance to live the college life."


Mitchell entered LSU as a receiver and is part of a new class of Tiger wide-outs.


Mitchell, along with Ricky Dixon and Chris Mitchell, represent the next talent rotation at receiver for LSU. Following the departure of Dwayne Bowe and Craig Davis to the NFL, Mitchell will likely see a lot of playing time in Les Miles' new wide-open offense.


With spring football practice opening Monday, Mitchell's already chaotic schedule just got worse.


Football practice will begin Monday afternoon for Mitchell along with baseball, but he will sit out Tuesday due to a home baseball game against Tulane. Wednesday there will be no baseball practice, but he will attend football meetings. Thursday he will do both practices, and Friday he will be with the baseball team as they host Lipscomb.


In all, Mitchell will make eight of 15 spring football practices, including the spring game, and will not miss a baseball contest.


"The times that he's not playing games, he'll be with us when we practice or when we meet," Miles said. "That will help him. He'll move along real slowly in football. He will be worn some in baseball. There ain't no way you can go to a football practice of length and then show up at the baseball diamond the next day and not be a little sore. So we'll try to use him smart. But he's got to learn what we're doing and understand. He really can factor in possibly a return position as well."

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