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Monday, January 7, 2013
Linebackers could show out at OSU soon

By Brad Bournival

Ohio State missed on ESPN 150 wide receiver James Quick (Louisville, Ky./Trinity) over the weekend when the senior chose Louisville. What the Buckeyes did from a defensive standpoint, however, solidified an already strong unit.

Mike Mitchell
Mike Mitchell plans on coming to Ohio State to compete for a starting job.
With headliners on the front line and in the secondary, all that was missing were some linebackers.

What Ohio State got in Trey Johnson (Lawrenceville, Ga./Central Gwinnett) and Mike Mitchell (Plano, Texas/Prestonwood Christian) could impact the team earlier than many expect.

Mitchell said he intends on coming to Columbus to compete for playing time immediately. Johnson indicated the depth chart was a big reason for him choosing the Buckeyes over Florida and Tennessee.

On paper, it’s hard to argue both players won’t impact the roster sooner rather than later.

This season, the two combined for 326 tackles -- 56˝ for loss -- 14 sacks, seven forced fumbles, three blocked punts and an interception.

Their numbers as juniors were similar, giving the tandem almost unheard of statistics from their linebacking position.

In two seasons, the 6-foot-1, 215-pound Johnson and 6-4, 216-pound Mitchell combined for 641 tackles -- 110 for loss -- and recorded 31 sacks.

What Johnson and Mitchell do more than anything, however, is complement each other. Both linebackers have a nasty streak and bring elite speed to the position.

Johnson is aggressive and has quick reaction time. Add strength and technique and he’s as solid as they come.

Mitchell’s style is fast and physical. His burst of speed makes up for pretty much any shortcomings. He’s versatile as well and can play either inside or outside for the Buckeyes.

They also have an innate knack for leadership. Each player’s coach talks about character and direction before they ever talk about what Johnson and Mitchell can do on the field.

That’s something Ohio State needs in the middle of its defense and something that can pay dividends immediately.

Even if both see time only on special teams next season, they’ll learn under Luke Fickell with Ryan Shazier as their immediate tutor.

With Etienne Sabino and Zach Boren lost as starting linebackers as well as fellow senior Storm Klein, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see both Johnson and Mitchell soon.