Q&A: Mike Mitchell talks move from Ohio State to Texas Tech
Jun 4, 2014 at 3:00p ET
We’ve officially reached the quiet part of the college football calendar. However, one major headline did break last week: Former Ohio State linebacker Mike Mitchell, a five-star recruit in 2012, announced he was transferring to Texas Tech.
In an exclusive interview with FOX Sports, Mitchell spoke publicly for the first time about his decision to transfer, what he learned at Ohio State and why he’s excited to become a Red Raider.
So you’re officially a Red Raider. I guess the obvious first question is: How does it feel?
Oh, it feels amazing. It’s kind of like when I committed out of high school, only there’s the added perk of being so close to home. And of course getting back closer to my family.
Even still, from the minute I walked on campus, Tech just felt like home.
What was it about Texas Tech that made it the right fit?
Really, it was just all the coaches. They all made me feel like I’d be a great fit and a great addition to what they were doing.
I also had a great relationship with Coach Wally (defensive coordinator Matt Wallerstedt). He recruited me when I was coming out of high school, and he was at Texas A&M (as linebackers coach). So the fit there was natural, too, with him being at Texas Tech now.
Everyone knows A&M for that explosive offense. What did Coach Wally tell you about how he plans to use you on defense?
He said exactly what you said: The team is known for the offense, but that they are really making strides on defense, too. He wants me to be one of those guys on defense (to take the team to the next level). He sees me playing inside and outside, in coverage, all over. He wants me coming from all different angles.
What about Coach Kingsbury? He was at Texas A&M when you were recruited out of high school as well. Did you meet him then?
Honestly, I never really met him (while I was being recruited to Texas A&M). I might’ve shaken his hand one time, that’s really it. But in meeting him this time, he gave a really good first impression. He’s down to earth, a player’s coach and seems to relate really well with his players. The guys on the team love him.
He’s a really good guy. I’m looking forward to playing for him.
We all know that Coach Kingsbury has quite the reputation. Is he the same privately that he is publicly?
Well, it’s a little bit of both, honestly. When he’s around the team, he’s the guy you see on Saturdays; high-energy, enthusiastic, really fun to be around. But in private, he’s much more laid-back; the type of guy you can trust.
So in some ways, he was what I expected. But in a lot of ways, he wasn’t.
What about Ohio State? What was the reason behind leaving?
Honestly, a lot of it had to do with my family. My dad’s health isn’t great. It wasn’t as bad when I left (for Ohio State), and for a while it seemed to be getting better. But now, it’s kind of not as good. Plus, I had an injury that really limited me on the field last year as well.
But really, it was mostly about my family, about being back in Texas and being closer to them, being around them as much as I can.
What will you remember most about your experience at Ohio State?
It’s really a great school academically. Athletically it was everything I could’ve ever asked for. And getting to play under Coach (Urban) Meyer and Coach (Luke) Fickell was great, too. They have great football knowledge and taught me a ton about the game. I’m grateful for them, and grateful for the time I spent at the school.
At the same time, everything happens for a reason. And I’m excited now to be moving on with the next chapter of my life.
What was the biggest thing Coach Meyer taught you that you’ll take with you from Ohio State?
Really, playing there was just next-level football. You get used to playing in high school, being the biggest, fastest guy, but playing on the college level, you realize everyone is just as skilled. I was able to improve as a football player a lot at Ohio State, learn from Coach Meyer and his coaching staff.
It’s also other stuff, too. It’s time management, it’s being mature. I really did enjoy my time at the school. It taught me a lot about being an adult.
As you head to Tech, at least one major adjustment is the style of play. In the Big Ten, you were gearing up a lot more for power, run-oriented football, while in the Big 12 it’s more about the quarterbacks. Have you given thought to the style of play at all?
I have. As you said, there is so much more spread in the Big 12. The quarterbacks can throw, but they’re also running more now than they used to. With Texas Tech running a 3-4, I think it’ll give me a lot of opportunities for success. As I mentioned earlier, I’ll be used to cover passes, in the run, all over the place.
What about eligiblity? The rumors were you were going to petition the NCAA for immediate eligibility. Have you started that process yet.
No, I have not. We are still trying to figure out that process.
Did you consider any schools other than Texas Tech? Visit any others?
The only school I actually visited was Texas, the reason being that I had actually visited most of the local schools out of high school. I had been to Baylor, Texas A&M and places like that. I knew those campuses, had seen the facilities, so I didn’t really feel like I needed to visit those schools again.
So the only new school I visited this time around, besides Texas Tech, was Texas.
And what let you know that Texas Tech was the right place for you?
It’s like I said earlier, it was really just a comfortable level. Coach Wally has a plan for me (defensively). And Coach Kingsbury is a really good coach.
But most of all, I felt like the program has a lot of momentum. It’s one of those places that you can go and really build your legacy. It’s a place where you can do things that haven’t been done before. Do things for the first time in program history.
Recruiting is great, there is a lot of young talent in the program, and more coming in. It’s just something I want to be a part of.
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