X-Man Mutates into a Volunteer

Tennessee's defense added another weapon of mass disruption Thursday, as the nation's No. 15 ranked defensive end, Xavier Mitchell, of Long Beach, Miss., announced his decision to sign with the Vols.

Mitchell chose the Vols over offers from LSU, Southern Miss, Arizona State and Ole Miss, citing the comfort level he felt at Tennessee when on his Nov. 14 official visit.

"I committed to Tennessee," Mitchell told The Insiders. "Awesome — that's how I feel right now. It was hard to walk away from Ole Miss because I like those guys and they did such a great job of recruiting. But I just felt so comfortable at Tennessee. The coaches are great and seem so down to earth. It's a great situation for me. I love the people and the players. I just got that vibe from Tennessee."

The 6-foot-4, 242-pound X-Man isn't a mutant super power like the X-Men of movie fame, but he is a force of nature coming off the edge. He has sub 4.8 speed, a 34-inch vertical leap, a 350-pound bench press and a 550-pound squat. He averaged a double-double as a power forward for Long Beach High School and recorded 70 tackles, five sacks and an interception for the Bearcats as a junior while splitting time between middle linebacker and defensive end

An assortment of injuries, including a separated shoulder, a high ankle sprain and pulled hamstring, limited him to only for full games as a senior but he still managed 60 tackles and six sacks in a 5-5 campaign.

Originally from Lakewood, Calif., Mitchell, who moved to the Gulf coast town eight years ago, is quick off the ball, an explosive tackler who will remind some of UT fans of sophomore starter Parys Haralson, another prospect from Mississippi.

"Football is my sport," he said." The hard hitting and action is what I like about football. I'm a physical player and I get double-teamed a lot. I try to bring intensity to the field. I don't mind if they get up slowly after I hit them."

The Insiders' Scott Kennedy first saw Mitchell play as a sophomore and said this about the prospect who was rated the the No. 2 defensive end in the south: "He is big, strong, and fast, and he shows good technique beating the opposing offensive lineman with a variety of moves. He also displays the strength to take a blocker head on, shed him, and still make the tackle against the running back."

Mitchell was thought to be an LSU lean at one time and the in-state schools made him a priority for the Class of 2004. However, in the end, it was Tennessee's consistency and the "down-to-earth" approach by Vol assistant Steve Caldwell that carried the day.

By late December, Xavier Mitchell was growing weary of the fast-paced existence of a high-profile prospect.

"It's getting old," he said. "It was fun at the beginning, but the calls are getting old. I just want to live my life and make my decision."

Mitchell has made his decision and begins his life as a Tennessee Volunteer.


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