Mitchell left voluntarily and went home agreeing to re-take an Algebra class. He stayed in touch with his OSU teammates and prepared for his return. The head coach has noticed him make the most of it.
"Joe (Mitchell) is having a good spring," said Gundy. "He has picked things up and has tackled fairly well for a freshman. He has moved around well and stayed healthy, and I don't have to tell you how important that is."
While Mitchell took care of the academics issue, it was pretty obvious he worked out too.
"Either that or he has a really good genetic trait," joked Gundy. "He came in in fairly good shape and did a good job in winter conditioning and it has showed up this spring.
"He's playing well, and it is hard to tell where he would be if he'd been here last fall. He has come in with a great attitude and he has made the adjustment," added Gundy.
Mitchell will get some competition in the fall as not only is veteran James Thomas battling with him at the star linebacker, but Texas high school All-State standout Shaun Lewis will be reporting and looking to make an impact.
"I don't see a lot because I don't watch the interior as much," said Gundy, who has spent considerable time with the defense this spring. "I've heard them say good things about him and I know Bill is happy with what he is getting out of him.
"There is something to be said about a guy that is in the right spot and gives great effort. He seems to do that and he likes to play there. The advantage he has is that he is quicker and on the stunts and twists and things it is tough for them to get their hands on him."
"Cooper Bassett has really stepped up and we moved him to end from tight end and now we've moved him to tackle which is even a bigger adjustment," said Young. "He is a very unselfish young guy and we are very happy with the way he is performing right now."
Young made an instant impact at his alma mater upon joining Mike Gundy's staff in 2009. Oklahoma State's defense ranked as the fourth-most improved unit in the country from the 2008 season to the 2009 season. The Cowboys allowed 405.54 yards per game to rank 93rd nationally in total defense in 2008, but allowed only 332.54 yards per game in 2009 to rank 31st in the country.
"We're excited that Coach Young is being recognized with an award like this because it goes beyond just football," Gundy said. "It speaks to the kind of person that he is. He is a great role model for all of the young men in our program and is a tremendous representative of Oklahoma State University."
Under Young's guidance in 2009, the OSU defense held every Big 12 opponent but Oklahoma below its season rushing average and the 13 rushing yards gained by Colorado represents the 14th lowest total by an opponent in Cowboy history.
The Cowboys allowed only 95.8 rushing yards per game and just 3.0 yards per attempt by the opposition in 2009. Oklahoma State has not had a defense finish the season allowing less than 100 yards per game on the ground since 1982 when the Leslie O'Neal-led Pokes yielded a then-school record low of 99.2 yards per game.
The National Football Foundation and College Football Hall of Fame Scholar-Athlete Awards Banquet begins at 7 p.m. Tuesday.