Mitchell Making Good First Impression

Ohio State freshman middle linebacker Mike Mitchell was among the first newcomers to lose his black stripe, officially becoming a Buckeye this week. Already a member of the two-deep at his position, Mitchell is wasting little time making his presence known.

It has not taken Mike Mitchell long to become an official member of the Ohio State football team.

Of course, Mitchell and the rest of Urban Meyer's 2012 recruiting class have all signed national letters of intent and are members of the squad. But the newcomers still must earn the right to be called a Buckeye by having their stripe removed – the black stripe that lays over the red stripe down the center of the players' helmets.

Mitchell was among the first freshmen to lose his stripe, becoming a full Buckeye Aug. 10 – the same day as running back Dontre Wilson and days after walk-on wide receiver Joe Ramstetter became the first to accomplish the feat.

"That was an awesome feeling," said Mitchell, who was mentored by assigned big brother Joe Burger. "It was our scrimmage day, and I guess Coach Meyer thought I had a really solid scrimmage. I was going as hard as I could every play, and at the end he decided to take it off.

"It was a really good feeling to get that off."

Mitchell came to Ohio State after an impressive prep career at Plano (Texas) Prestonwood Christian, where he earned a five-star ranking from Scout.com and was slotted as the No. 2 middle linebacker in his class. He was a two-sport standout in his youth, also excelling in basketball, before dropping that spot to pursue his football dreams in high school.

"I just thought it was more of a natural sport for me," Mitchell said. "I loved it so much more than basketball that I couldn't give it up. I just thought it'd be cool to do that."

Mitchell gave his verbal commitment to Ohio State at the U.S. Army All-American game in January after completing a senior season in which he recorded 190 tackles with four sacks, seven quarterback pressures and five forced fumbles.

The No. 28 overall prospect played primarily middle linebacker in college but also lined up at strongside and weakside linebacker, as well as defensive end, as a prep player. As a Buckeye, however, he is working in the middle behind Curtis Grant. Meyer listed Mitchell as the top backup to Grant during Sunday's Media Day.

"I didn't really know what to expect," Mitchell said of his first preseason camp. "I just knew I was going to come out here and … I've just been playing my hardest out here. So far that's the progression that's come about."

Like Mitchell, Grant was a five-star prospect in high school. The pair have formed a solid bond in their first weeks as teammates.

"Curtis has been a big help to me ever since I've gotten here," Mitchell said. "He's helped me with the plays and walks me through everything. He's shown me the routine of it all. He's helped me a lot."

Grant had high praise for Mitchell, as did junior returning starter Ryan Shazier.

"I wasn't surprised he lost his stripe because he was showing what he can do – running around, giving 4-to-6 seconds of effort – exactly what our coaches ask them to do," Shazier said of Mitchell. "He's doing a great job."

Mitchell is also trying to emulate what he sees in Shazier, who led Ohio State with 17 tackles for loss last year and ranked second with 115 stops.

"I watched his whole season last year, just how fast he goes to the football and how hard he plays," Mitchell said. "He's a really smart linebacker, too, so I try to watch him during meetings and during practice to learn as much as I can from him."

So far, so good for Mitchell. Meyer has said those players who lose their stripes early in camp will likely find the field in some capacity during the fall, meaning Mitchell might not have to wait long to make his collegiate debut.


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