Mike Mitchell is one of the most special players in the 2013 recruiting class. Mitchell is a 5 star 6’4″ 216 lb outside linebacker from Plano, Texas. He was named a US Army All- American and Rivals ranked him as the number one player in the entire state of Texas. At the Nike Sparq combine, he was clocked at a blazing 4.39 40 yard dash and recorded a 40 inch vertical jump. He blew away the entire field at the combine, including the skill position players. Mitchell is not just a combine freak though, he is a classic, throwback linebacker.
Mitchell has a motor that does not stop and it stands out in his film. Nicknamed “The Abusement Park”, Mitchell brings a nastiness to the defense and he is the type of player that will get significant playing time from day one. Expect him to start off as a special teams ace on kick off with his speed and tackling ability. He will be competing with under performing Curtis Grant for one of the starting OLB positions and if Grant can not put it all together, expect Mitchell to eventually start. Mitchell has an uncanny ability to get after the passer as an edge rusher and get stops in the backfield. His vision and play recognition are second to none. Mitchell recorded 151 tackles, 32 tackles for loss and 11 sacks his junior year. His supreme athleticism and motor will remind fans of AJ Hawk and his nastiness and violence reminds me of ex- Florida Gator and current New England Patriots linebacker, Brandon Spikes. Rivals ranks Mitchell as a five star and the 26th best player in the nation. ESPN ranks him as a four star and the 128th best player in the nation. 247 ranks Mitchell as a four star and the 95th best player in the country. Scout ranks him as a five star and the number two best linebacker in the country.
Four star inside linebacker Trey Johnson completes the Buckeyes two man linebacker recruiting class and fills an immediate hole for Defensive Coordinator Luke Fickell. Johnson is a 6’1″, 222 lb inside linebacker hailing from Lawrenceville, Georgia. The Buckeyes beat out Florida and Tennessee after Johnson de-committed from Auburn. Fickell is getting a southern linebacker who has the tools to start right away for the silver bullets. Coaches have raved about Johnson’s football smarts and his understanding of X’s and O’s. He may not have the crazy combine results like Mitchell but he will put himself in the right place to make the play and he will rarely make a mental mistake.
Johnson averaged 18 tackles a game as a Junior, finishing with 164 total tackles. He reads his keys quickly and makes numerous plays in the backfield. Like Mitchell, expect Johnson to get playing time in year one and possibly start or be a part of the linebacker rotation. Rivals ranked him as a four star and the third best inside linebacker in the country. ESPN ranked Johnson as a four star and the 48th best player in the country. 247 ranked him as a four star recruit and the third best linebacker in the country. Scout ranked Johnson as a four star and the 16th best linebacker in the country.
Like the offensive line, there were only two recruits for this position. Except, in my opinion, these are two “can’t miss” prospects. Other than Ryan Shazier, no one else is guaranteed a starting spot at linebacker and these two freshman could step up and make an immediate impact. Mitchell is the type of athlete and person that will not accept a seat on the bench. I expect him to have a heavy special teams role from day one and eventually take over a starting job at outside linebacker or even be used as a pass rusher off the edge in passing situations. Trey Johnson has the smarts, instincts and athleticism to start right away next to Shazier. After reading up on Johnson, it seems that he will rapidly comprehend Meyer’s defensive scheme, which will put him in place to either start or be put into a rotation at inside linebacker.
Although there is not a lot of depth in this class at linebacker, these two players have what it takes to make an immediate impact in 2013. I would give this position an A+ and I do not see either of these prospects not living up to the lofty expectations that have been placed upon them.