Oklahoma Sooners: Mike Mitchell

With spring ball done, we’re re-examining and re-ranking the positional situations of every Big 12 team, continuing Tuesday with linebackers. These outlooks will look different in August. But here’s how we see them post-spring:

1. Oklahoma (pre-spring ranking: 1): While the future of inside linebacker Frank Shannon remains unclear, the Sooners have a tailor-made replacement in Jordan Evans ready to go. Shannon was OU’s leading tackler a year ago, but Evans was the defensive MVP of the spring game in his place. Blitzing outside linebacker Eric Striker had a huge spring coming off his three-sack performance in the Allstate Sugar Bowl. And the Sooners had another blitzing linebacker in juco transfer Devante Bond emerge in March, which could give them flexibility to move Striker around. Dominique Alexander, the reigning Big 12 Defensive Freshman of the Year, solidifies OU’s perch atop this positional ranking, even with Shannon’s future in limbo.

2. Texas (2): Steve Edmond sparked controversy with his Baylor comments, but he also impressed coach Charlie Strong this spring with his knack for making tackles. Edmond and Dalton Santos team up to give the Longhorns a reliable combination on the inside. Athletic sophomore Timothy Cole took advantage of his opportunities with the first-team defense during the spring but should fall back into a spot role once Jordan Hicks returns this summer from a second consecutive season-ending injury. This will be a good group of linebackers, but Hicks playing up to his five-star potential is what could make it great.

3. West Virginia (3): After struggling at the “Spur” linebacker spot in 2013, Isaiah Bruce moved back inside this spring, where he starred as a freshman All-American two years ago. Bruce said he didn’t feel as comfortable playing outside and that showed, as he didn’t record a sack last season despite playing off the edge. Taking over in the Spur is converted safety K.J. Dillon, who was as impressive as any West Virginia defender this spring. With the ability to drop back in coverage, attack the run and rush the quarterback, Dillon seems to be a much better fit at the Spur. If he continues to progress at his new spot and Bruce gets back to his old self playing alongside tackling machine Nick Kwiatkoski inside, the Mountaineers will be stout at the second level.

4. Kansas (5): If the Jayhawks finally climb out of the Big 12 cellar for the first time in six years, it will be on the back of Ben Heeney and a Kansas defense that returns nine starters. One of those nine returners is Heeney’s linebacker wingman, Jake Love, who delivered a strong spring game with a scrimmage-high 10 tackles. The Jayhawks have several weaknesses, but the tackling of their linebackers is not one of them.

5. TCU (6): They get overshadowed by the units in front of and behind them, but linebackers Paul Dawson and Marcus Mallet simply fulfill what’s asked of them. The Horned Frogs were surprisingly solid at linebacker last year. They should be even better in 2014.

6. Texas Tech (7): The Red Raiders received a huge boost in the spring from Kenny Williams, who made a seamless -- and voluntary -- position switch from running back to the “Raider” linebacker position. With honorable mention All-Big 12 pick Pete Robertson on the other outside spot and veterans Sam Eguavoen and Micah Awe and Utah transfer V.J. Fehoko manning the middle, the Red Raiders have a solid foundation. Ex-Ohio State linebacker Mike Mitchell, who attended Tech’s spring game, could give the unit another boost in the summer. He was an ESPN 300 recruit last year and could be eligible immediately at his next school.

7. Kansas State (8): Coach Bill Snyder seemed to be reasonably pleased with returners Jonathan Truman and Will Davis, who have locked up two of the linebacker spots. If D'Vonta Derricott, who was in the ESPN Junior College 50 and had offers from Miami, Wisconsin, Arizona State and a host of Big 12 programs, can make an impact at the third linebacker spot, the Wildcats could quickly solidify their biggest question spot defensively.

8. Baylor (4): Middle linebacker Bryce Hager will be fine once he finally recovers from a groin injury. That means Aiavion Edwards, who exited spring as the starter on the weak side, will be the key as the Bears attempt to overcome the graduation of All-Big 12 performer Eddie Lackey. Baylor, though, still has big expectations for juco transfer Grant Campbell, even though he finished spring as a backup on the depth chart. After a shaky first few practices, Campbell began to come on late in spring drills.

9. Oklahoma State (9): The Cowboys picked up a valuable transfer during the spring in former Michigan safety Josh Furman, who will be eligible immediately after getting his degree. Furman isn’t a star, but he has plenty of experience and could be a real asset teamed with juco transfer D'Nerius Antoine at Oklahoma State’s “Star” linebacker spot. On the weak side, fellow juco transfer Devante Averette really shined before suffering some mild injuries at the end of spring ball. The Cowboys will be even better there if 2012 four-star signee Seth Jacobs emerges.

10. Iowa State (10): The Cyclones remain in transition mode at linebacker while working to replace the production of departed All-Big 12 performer Jeremiah George. Redshirt freshman and former QB Alton Meeks was one of the defensive surprises of the spring; he currently sits atop the depth chart at middle linebacker. The other big defensive surprise was walk-on senior Drake Ferch, who beat out returning starter Jared Brackens on the strong side. Jevohn Miller is the third starting linebacker, but he figures to be a placeholder on the weak side until Luke Knott returns from last year’s season-ending hip injury.

Five stories to watch: Dallas NFTC 

April, 5, 2013
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The Nike Football Training Camp series will continue outside of Dallas on Sunday. Athletes will trek to Allen, Texas, the home of one of the most impressive high school stadiums in the country. Allen Eagles Stadium, a $60-million facility, opened last year and featured nearly 22,000 fans watching Texas powers Allen and Southlake Carroll clash.

Here are five storylines to watch on Sunday.

Talented DBs aplenty

It’s been said on multiple occasions that the 2014 class may be one of the strongest in years at producing big-time defensive backs in the region. The battle for defensive back MVP has the potential of being extremely competitive with players such as Laurence Jones (Monroe, La./Neville), Jamal Adams (Lewisville, Texas/Hebron), Tony Brown (Beaumont, Texas/Ozen), Steven Parker (Jenks, Okla./Jenks) and Arrion Springs (San Antonio/Roosevelt) expected to be in attendance. Chris Hardeman (Houston/Alief Taylor) has committed to LSU, while Dylan Sumner-Gardner (Mesquite, Texas/West Mesquite) and Armani Watts (Forney, Texas/North Forney) have pledged to Texas A&M. Deionte Thompson (Orange, Texas/West Orange-Stark), a 2015 prospect, has verbally committed to Alabama. All of the DBs will have their shots in one-on-one drills against equally talented ESPN Watch List receivers such as Malachi Dupre (River Ridge, La./John Curtis), K.D. Cannon (Mount Pleasant, Texas/Mount Pleasant) and Texas commit Lorenzo Joe (Abilene, Texas/Cooper).

Loss of Mastrogiovanni a big blow to OU 

January, 6, 2013
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The first trickledown effect of Texas A&M’s thrashing of Oklahoma has occurred, and it’s a major blow for the Sooners.

[+] EnlargeJordan Mastrogiovanni
Damon Sayles/ESPN.comESPN 300 linebacker Jordan Mastrogiovanni puts the Sooners in a bind with a month until national signing day.
ESPN 300 linebacker Jordan Mastrogiovanni (Dallas/Jesuit) confirmed via text message on Sunday night that he has flipped his commitment from OU to the Aggies, giving Texas A&M 35 pledges for its 2013 class.

Mastrogiovanni, who is 6-foot-2 and 225 pounds, was the first commit for OU’s linebackers coach Tim Kish, and the Mastrogiovanni family has numerous ties to the Sooners program.

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Treadwell, Mitchell top OU Christmas list 

December, 23, 2012
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Christmas felt like it came early for Oklahoma in the last two weeks with commitments of offensive tackles Christian Daimler (Houston/Stratford) and ESPN JC 100 prospect Josiah St. John (Athens, Texas/Trinity Valley).

Add in the commitment of three-star defensive tackle Kerrick Huggins (Dallas/Skyline) and the signing of ESPN JC 100 defensive tackle Quincy Russell (Athens, Texas/Trinity Valley), and it has been a banner couple of weeks for the Sooners.

But OU isn’t done yet. OU coach Bob Stoops said the Sooners weren’t done -- not by a longshot. So in the spirit of the season, here is OU’s recruiting Christmas list to close out the 2013 class.

ATH Adrian Baker (Hollywood, Fla./Chaminade-Madonna, 6-1, 165, No. 198 ESPN 300)

Following his visit to OU, Baker decommitted from Florida State. Is that a sign of things to come? Too early to know, but Baker would be a huge boost to OU at wide receiver or cornerback.

It’s going to be a marathon with Baker in January between Clemson and OU. He made official visits to both campuses in December, and both schools will make in-home visits with Baker in the next month.

Baker can contribute on either side of the ball. Bottom line, though, is he can contribute.

OT Aaron Cochran (Atwater, Calif./Buhach, 6-8, 364, No. 22 OT)

It will be tough for Sooners to get Cochran out of the west coast, but OU is certainly giving it a try. Cochran made an official visit to OU in November, and OU coaches Bruce Kittle and Bob Stoops have already made visits to the mammoth tackle.

Nebraska, Cal and Arizona are also in the mix. Cochran’s older brother, Matt, just finished his freshman season with the Bears.

S Tyler Foreman (Encino, Calif./Crespi Carmelite, 6-2, 161, No. 32 S, Committed to Wisconsin)

With all the coaching changes at Wisconsin, why can’t the Sooners get back into the race for Foreman? UCLA has picked up its intensity in a major way since Bret Bielema left Wisconsin to go to Arkansas.

Foreman made an official visit to OU in September, and OU defensive backs coach Mike Stoops was among the first coaches to notice the type of potential Foreman has.

DT Toby Johnson (Hutchinson, Kan./Hutchinson CC, 6-4, 305, No. 4 ESPN JC 100)

It’s going to be tough to see the Sooners pull this one out, but OU defensive tackles coach Jackie Shipp is on a roll right now following Huggins and Russell.

Shipp hasn’t given up on Johnson, another player who could make an immediate impact. But it feels like Georgia is in the lead. The Sooners are in fantastic shape for Garland (Texas ) South Garland tackle Charles Walker. He picked up an OU offer last week and will visit OU on Jan. 11.

LB Mike Mitchell (Plano, Texas/Prestonwood Christian, 6-4, 216, No. 121 ESPN 150)

OU looks like it’s set at linebacker for 2013. But this is a wish list, right? And if Mitchell looked like he wanted to head to Norman, nobody in their right mind would pass that up.

OU linebackers coach Tim Kish has developed a solid rapport with Mitchell, but Ohio State has jumped on Mitchell. And without a bowl game to prepare for, Buckeyes coach Urban Meyer has been able to spend a lot of quality time with Mitchell.


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Mike Mitchell's OSU visit was 'awesome' 

December, 9, 2012
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Ken Mitchell didn’t hear anything about a commitment to Ohio State from his son, ESPN 150 outside linebacker Mike Mitchell (Plano, Texas/Prestonwood Christian), following an official visit to Columbus, Ohio, over the weekend.

What he did hear was how much fun the 6-foot-4, 216-pound senior had this weekend.

“His first two words were 'crazy' and 'awesome,' ” Ken Mitchell said. “The first thing he did when he got there was spend time with Coach [Urban] Meyer. Then he went to the OSU basketball game. He said it was a great time.”

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Sooner Intel: Recruiting news and notes 

December, 6, 2012
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Every Thursday, SoonerNation releases the Sooner Intel, a sneak peek inside Oklahoma Sooners football recruiting with news and notes on the latest happenings around the program. Talk about it on our forum. A few things discussed in this week's update:

  • It's decision day for DT target Justin Manning
  • Has OU fallen behind on recruiting an ESPN 150 LB?

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Breaking down the board: Linebacker 

November, 28, 2012
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Each week, "Breaking down the board" will take a deeper, position-by-position look at the prospects Oklahoma is target. SoonerNation will rank five players at each position with No. 1 being the player who should be OU’s top priority of the five recruits listed.

To be clear, this ranking has nothing to do with the Sooners' actual recruiting board/priority list. It's simply our ranking list compiled of the recruits at the position who have expressed legitimate interest in the Sooners and who could be the best fits for OU’s system. Today we look at Oklahoma's linebacker board:


1. Raaquan Davis, Heath, Texas/Rockwall-Heath

Measurables: 6-foot-2, 195 pounds

Commitment: Baylor

[+] EnlargeMike Mitchell
Tom Hauck for ESPN.comESPN 150 linebacker Mike Mitchell would be a good fit for the Sooners.
Rankings: No. 28 linebacker, No. 54 in Midlands, No. 17 in Texas

ESPN.com grade: 81, four-star recruit.

How he’d fit: Davis is a very good fit for the Sooners defense. He’s very similar to current Sooner linebackers Corey Nelson and Frank Shannon in terms of body type and skill set. He’s comfortable in space yet willing to play with aggression and physicality. He’s the type of versatile linebacker the Sooners should be aiming to sign.

Why he’s No. 1: He’s versatile and comfortable in space. He can excel in the running game and passing game which is an unique skill set and makes him extremely valuable, particularly with the different offenses the Sooners face each season. He’s been solid to Baylor throughout his senior season but OU needs to keep making him say “No.” until signing day.

Bob Przybylo's take: Forty-eight hours. That’s all it was. Davis committed to Baylor 48 hours before OU offered Davis. So far, that’s all it’s taken. Davis has not given one indication he is backing down from his Bears commitment despite the fact Tim Kish will not stop talking with Davis. He understands it’s a part of Kish’s job, but Davis has also made it clear Waco, Texas, should be his future home.

2. Mike Mitchell, Plano, Texas/Prestonwood Christian Academy

Measurables: 6-foot-4, 216 pounds, 4.45 in the 40

Rankings: No. 121 in the ESPN150, No. 10 linebacker, No. 19 in Midlands, No. 17 in Texas

ESPN.com grade: 84, four-star recruit.

How he’d fit: He’d be a terrific fit for what the Sooners would like to do. His combination of size, speed and physicality would help the Sooners defense handle the various offenses in the Big 12. He can make plays sideline to sideline and is very aggressive and physical. He’s very versatile in an era when versatility is critical, particularly at the linebacker position.

Why he’s No. 2: He’s a very good fit for what OU needs at linebacker. He has size, speed and versatility and would be able to help the Sooners immediately if he decided to play college football in Norman. Even though the Sooners appear to be a long shot at this point, they need to put the full-court press on Mitchell.

Bob Przybylo's take: OU feels like it’s on the outside looking in at this point. After an unofficial visit to campus in July, the Mitchell family has not made another trip to Norman and didn’t make an expected trip to Dallas for the Red River Rivalry. The leader in the clubhouse appears to be Ohio State, especially coming off a positive in-home visit. If Mitchell visits Columbus, Ohio, anytime soon, that could wrap it up.

3. Jordan Evans, Norman, Okla./North

Measurables: 6-foot-3, 205 pounds

Commitment: Oklahoma

Rankings: Not evaluated

ESPN.com grade: NR.

How he’d fit: Evans might eventually be a better fit at defensive end but he’s an versatile, athletic playmaker. He has the size to make plays in the running game and the athleticism to make plays in the passing game while being very comfortable in space. He’d could be a good fit at linebacker.

Why he’s No. 3: Even though he recently committed to the Sooners, he remains on the list because he may or may not end up at linebacker. Thus, if OU can land Mitchell or Davis, it could open up the possibility of moving Evans to a different position. If not, he could be the best available option to fill a need at the linebacker position in Norman. Regardless, Evans can play linebacker at OU because comfortable in space and versatile as a defender. Both attributes can be difficult to find in linebackers yet are critical attributes to have success in the Big 12. He’s not higher because Mitchell and Davis are a little more aggressive and physical while bringing similar versatility.

Bob Przybylo's take: Evans played his way into an offer with an outstanding senior season. He has seen every OU home game and has been in constant contact with Tim Kish throughout this season. All that everybody was waiting for was the offer, which came last weekend. And the commitment didn’t take that much longer as Evans officially pulled the trigger Tuesday night. He wanted to wait, but in the end, he knew he couldn’t. His dad is a Sooner, and he wants to be one, too.

4. Paul Whitmill, Bastrop, Texas/Bastrop

Measurables: 6-foot-0, 200 pounds


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Each Week SoonerNation recruiting writers Bob Przybylo and Brandon Chatmon will faceoff on one issue regarding Oklahoma recruiting.

This week’s question: OU still needs a lot of help defensively for its 2013 class, but who is the most-coveted prospect the Sooners should focus on if they could only land just one?


Bob Przybylo: I think we can all agree that defensive tackle is the biggest need for OU’s class the rest of the way. But do you want a difference maker? Do you want someone who would make OU fans feel good about its defensive class in a heartbeat?

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#BlueChip Battles: Oct. 26

October, 26, 2012
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Pitt doesn't want WR Robert Foster to leave the Keystone State and USC hopes to keep CB Max Redfield in Cali. The local programs' bid to keep those two stars in-state highlights this week's #BlueChipBattles Insider.

#BlueChipBattles is the Twitter hashtag to use if you want to voice your opinion on our list or to view other fans' reactions as the commitments begin to roll in. Get recruiting updates on the players above as well as the nation's other top football prospects here: @RecruitingESPN.

Sooner Intel: Recruiting news and notes 

October, 25, 2012
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videoEvery Thursday, SoonerNation releases the Sooner Intel, a sneak peek inside Oklahoma Sooners football recruiting with news and notes on the latest happenings around the program. Talk about it on our forum. A few things discussed in this week's update:

  • OU makes the final three for an elite defensive tackle who is visiting this weekend.
  • An in-depth look at some of this weekend's visitors.

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#BlueChipBattles: Week 3

October, 19, 2012
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David Dawson decommited from Michigan and Justin Manning delayed his decision date, and that had a big-time ripple effect in this week's #BlueChipBattles Insider, as more than half of the top 10 spots have new occupants.

Sooner Intel: Recruiting news and notes 

October, 18, 2012
10/18/12
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Every Thursday, SoonerNation releases the Sooner Intel, a sneak peek inside Oklahoma Sooners football recruiting with news and notes on the latest happenings around the program. Talk about it on our forum. A few things discussed in this week's update:

  • ESPN 150 prospect enjoyed watching OU's defense vs. Texas
  • The Sooners make the top four for a former decommitment

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LB Mitchell ready to play recruiting game 

October, 16, 2012
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ESPN 150 linebacker Mike Mitchell (Plano, Texas/Prestonwood Christian) is like a heat-seeking missile when attacking opposing offenses, accumulating more than 120 tackles in the first seven games of his senior season.

But as ferocious as he is on the field, he might be even more elusive off the field. Mitchell, who is 6-foot-4 and 216 pounds and ranked No. 121 in the ESPN 150, is one of the most sought-after uncommitted prospects but one of the quietest when it comes to his recruitment.

[+] EnlargeMike Mitchell
Tom Hauck for ESPN.comESPN 150 linebacker Mike Mitchell has narrowed down his list to four schools.
That’s about to change. Mitchell said he intends to take his first official visit this weekend to Texas A&M to see the Aggies take on LSU.

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Five from Friday: Mitchell shows talent 

October, 15, 2012
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Every week through football season, SoonerNation writer Bob Przybylo will reveal five things he learned while out on the road watching the best in the Midlands area play football.

1. It’s tough to use the word potential when discussing Edmond (Okla.) Santa Fe 2014 quarterback Justice Hansen. After having another seven-touchdown performance in a 68-28 win against Lawton, Okla., Hansen continues to bring it every week. He was 15-of-23 for 285 yards and four touchdowns and rushed for 104 yards and three scores. Hansen, an ESPN Watch List prospect, has been on the radar for a long time and keeps showing why with every game. He is not known as a runner, but he can run, and he’s a very powerful yet deceptively quick runner in the open field. Hansen’s great weekend concluded with watching the Sooners dominate Texas on Saturday.

[+] EnlargeMike Mitchell
Tom Hauck for ESPN.comESPN 150 linebacker Mike Mitchell has narrowed down his list to four schools.
2. It's not the easiest thing in the world to get in touch with ESPN 150 linebacker Mike Mitchell (Plano, Texas/Prestonwood Christian), but he is having a huge senior season. Mitchell explodes off the ball and is always in the middle of the action. He saw limited time in a 42-7 victory against Dallas John Paul II but still ended up with eight tackles and two quarterback hurries. He is down to OU, Texas A&M, Oregon and Ohio State and is hoping to make an official visit to all four schools.

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Five biggest visitors at the RRR game 

October, 12, 2012
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It’s a second chance for Oklahoma to make a positive imprint on top recruits. The Sooners had an opportunity last month in a home game against Kansas State but were unable to come out with a victory.

But a win against Texas in the Red River Rivalry would help wipe away the memory of the loss. And with several top recruits making the trip, might be the impression that helps OU in the future on the recruiting trail.

Here are five of the biggest visitors for OU. For a full list of the visitors, read the SoonerNation forum.

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