Profile: Jason Mitchell

Jason Mitchell grew up an LSU fan. He was raised in Abbeville, about 75 miles southwest of Baton Rouge. His high school football coach took him to several games.

``I was at every home game I could make,'' Mitchell said of those Saturday nights in Tiger Stadium. ``It was crazy. It's get so loud when the band comes onto the field before the game. It was one of the best experiences I had during the recruiting process.''

Even at a young age, Mitchell knew it wasn't the seafood that got Tiger fans revved up.

``I don't think it's the crawfish and boudin,'' he said. ``I think it's more like the little Budweisers and Bud Lights, you know.''

Yes, we know.

It's all part of the electric atmosphere that is Tiger Stadium.

Mitchell, a senior linebacker at Tennessee, wanted to see the 2000 LSU-Tennessee game in Baton Rouge but he had a homecoming dance that night.

``I really didn't want to go to the homecoming dance,'' he said. ``I wanted to go to the game, but I ended up going to the homecoming dance because it was my last one. My mom talked me into it.''

But his mom couldn't talk him into staying close to home.

Mitchell became familiar with UT when the Vols recruited his older brother, Brandon, a defensive lineman who is eight years older than Jason. Brandon would have signed with the Vols but he didn't have a qualifying score at the time Tennessee decided to take another defensive lineman. Brandon went to Texas A&M, had a standout college career and is an eight-year NFL veteran.

``I became a Tennessee fan,'' Jason said. ``I remember watching Peyton Manning's first start. From that time on, I kept up with Tennessee.''

Mitchell signed with the Vols and he'll make his first trip back to his home state for a football game in a boisterous stadium.

``It gets real difficult (for opposing teams),'' Mitchell said. ``They get loud any chance they get. They find a reason to scream and yell about anything. I think our team, at first, will be shocked at how loud it is because nobody on the team has ever played in that stadium before. At first, it will be kind of wild. After that, it's time to play ball.''

Mitchell knew when he signed with Tennessee that this day would come, that he'd return to his home state to play at LSU.

Mitchell almost stayed close to home.

``I considered LSU a lot,'' he said. ``Trev Faulk was a true freshman at the time and he was playing really well (at linebacker). I was like, `I want to be just like Trev.'''

Another linebacker, Bradie James, was Mitchell's host on his LSU visit.

``They were really good people, really good guys,'' Mitchell said.

But on his LSU visit, it hit Mitchell that he wanted to get away from home.

``I was doing some of the same things I did in high school and I realized I wanted to get away from those surroundings, just experience new things,'' Mitchell said. ``That's why I wanted to get out.''

LSU also changed its linebacker coach.

``That kind of gave me the shakes,'' Mitchell said.

Mitchell also considered Arkansas because the Hogs had lost two starting linebackers and let their linebackers roam.

``At the time, that scheme was very attractive,'' Mitchell said of Arkansas.

But in the end, it was Tennessee.

And now he'll get a chance to play in the stadium he so loved when he was a youth - on the sideline opposite the LSU bench.

* Mitchell, who has seven tackles through two games, ranked fifth on the team with 57 tackles last season, 5.5 behind the line. He has played 41 games, making 20 starts. An outside linebacker by trade, Mitchell started 11 games last season in the middle for the injured Kevin Simon. In 2002, he started four games as a redshirt freshman. He made one start as a sophomore.

* Tennessee has failed to score in the second half of the first two games.

How rare is it for the Vols to go two consecutive games without scoring in the third and fourth quarter?

You've got to go back 25 years. In 1980, the Vols failed to score after intermission against Alabama (a 27-6 loss) and Pittsburgh (a 30-6 defeat).

* Fullback Cory Anderson was the Vols' leading pass catcher last season among non-wide receivers with 17 grabs.

If Erik Ainge remains UT's quarterback, Anderson's passing game production likely won't match last season's output.

Consider this: Of Anderson's 17 receptions, nine came in the last four games when Rick Clausen was the starter. In Ainge's six starts, Anderson caught three passes, one against Notre Dame, when Ainge got hurt on the snap before halftime.

Anderson caught three passes in UT's opener - all from Clausen.


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