Spring Q&A: Reggie Mitchell

Although on the cusp of playing last season as a cornerback, redshirt freshman Reggie Mitchell has found a new home at free safety and believes he can contribute to Wisconsin this season.

Tell me about the learning lessons you went through last year. You traveled with the team and were on the cusp of playing, but never saw the field. What did you learn about yourself last year?

Reggie Mitchell: Last year was kind of tough. Wasn't the year I wanted, but was a great learning experience, just getting the experience to be out there with guys like Marcus Cromartie and Devin Smith. Just learning from them every day, getting the experience to travel without playing got me use to traveling, getting use to the game and pregame watching the older guys do it. It gets me so much more prepared for this year.

Does it impact you in a way in gives you confidence, or impact you in a way that you were you so close to playing and not you have what it takes to play?

Mitchell: I want to play for those guys. I want to play for the guys that played last year. It sucked that I didn't get to play for them last year, but I am hopeful to get the opportunity this year. It's time to make up for it.

Was last year not the year you wanted because you didn't play or because of something else?

Mitchell: Just everything. There were things I wanted to improve on. I didn't improve on everything I wanted to. I wanted to get better at a lot of different things and different techniques. I think I got more physical at the end of the last year. I wasn't getting bounced around a lot. My technique as a corner, I wanted to work on that every single day. I didn't play that much corner in high school, but I just wanted to work on that every single day. I mostly played offense and safety in high school, so it was a big adjustment coming in.

How has your growth gone since last season?

Mitchell: When you make a play in practice, you start to see the hard work start to pay off. You put the work in with your backpedaling and your speed and to come out on the field and make plays feels good.

Did the coaching change and the position coaching change affect you?

Mitchell: I mean, not really. I hate to see my coaches leave, but we have a great group of coaches that just came in. I am happy.

Talk about the transition of moving from cornerback to safety. How did that transition come about?

Mitchell: Coach Ben Strickland just told us to embrace the change. As soon as the coaches left and before we left for winter break, he told us a lot of things were going to change and to embrace everything to happen. I am embracing it, taking it as it comes and just trying to work on safety now.

Do you feel more comfortable at a safety position that cornerback?

Mitchell: I definitely feel more natural. It's a lot less technique. I can use my athletic ability a little more being in the open field. I feel more comfortable.

When you look at your secondary group from the outside, you see Dezmen Southward and a bunch of young guys. How do you view your group?

Mitchell: Dez has already proven himself and we're trying to show Dez that we can play with him. Everybody is working their butt off. We see guys making plays and just trying to show everyone that we have each other's back, no matter who is in there. We want to prove to each other that we support each other.

Working at just free safety with Michael Trotter and Michael Caputo, have you picked their brains at all considering they got some starts last year? What do you learn from them about that job?

Mitchell: As soon as they told me I was going to play safety, those guys took me under their wing. We've been watching film together each week and we've been asking each other questions. We bounce back and forth off each other, so it really helps me because I am a young guy.

What are the big strides you want to make after spring break as you get closer to the spring game?

Mitchell: I just want to really focus on the playbook right now. At the safety position, you really are the quarterback. You have to make sure you know all calls. As soon as I can learn the playbook like the back of my hand, I feel like everything will come after that.

If they asked you to start a game tomorrow, are you comfortable enough with where you are at?

Mitchell: I really just want to prove myself right now. I am comfortable if they want me to throw me anywhere. I just want to help the team out as much as I can.

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