Texas Tech coaches will evaluate Ohio State transfer Mike Mitchell at middle linebacker as he begins his time with the Red Raiders.
Mitchell was ranked a top-10 recruit in Texas and a top-60 player in the nation by 247Sports.com when he signed with Ohio State in February 2013. The Plano Prestonwood Christian graduate redshirted last season and transferred to Tech in June to be closer to home.
Mitchell is sitting out this season, so coaches have plenty of time to decide where they want to use him.
“Knowing he can play outside or inside, he can do a lot,” co-defensive coordinator Mike Smith said Wednesday, “but right now we’re going to put him inside and see what he can do there. If he can’t see it as well or read it as well, then he can always play bandit.”
The latter is the pass-rushing outside linebacker spot where Pete Robertson starts.
“He (Mitchell) can run and he’s strong,” Smith said. “Put him on the edge and let him go. Either way, he’s going to be the future of this defense.”
Mitchell, listed at 6-foot-3 and 226 pounds, is renowned for his athletic ability. Tech coaches will test his speed at middle linebacker, which is stationed to the wide side of the field in the Red Raiders’ 3-4.
The weak inside linebacker is to the tight side.
“(Weak side) is usually a bigger guy, shorter space, and then bandit, the same thing,” Smith said, “so if you’re in coverage, you’re not covering as much of the field. But he is big and can run, so put him at (middle linebacker) and see what he can do.”
Mitchell is not available to the media with Kliff Kingsbury’s policy of not allowing freshmen to do interviews.
Making his case
The next few weeks are important for Tech tackle Josh Outlaw. What he shows in preseason practice will determine whether he’s a genuine, game-time backup early this season or just No. 2 on the depth chart.
Outlaw, a 6-foot-4, 295-pound redshirt freshman, is Tech’s second-string left tackle behind newcomer Dominique Robertson. But should Robertson or right tackle Reshod Fortenberry get hurt in a game, it’s likely line coach Lee Hays would move right guard Le’Raven Clark outside and tap his surplus of guards.
That’s why August workouts matter so much for Outlaw. Show up well and he can work his way into more serious consideration to be in the rotation.
“The good thing is he can get all those two (second-team) reps, all camp,” Hays said.
The Red Raiders have four players with multiple career starts at guard: Clark (26 career starts, 13 at guard), Alfredo Morales (13), James Polk (seven, all last year) and Baylen Brown (three, last year).
Thus, the reason Clark is more likely to move to tackle if someone gets hurt.
“Le’Raven could go back out to tackle tonight if we needed him to,” Hays said.
Sophomore Trey Keenan and redshirt freshman Poet Thomas find themselves in a similar boat as Outlaw. The Red Raiders started preseason practice Monday with Keenan getting most of the backup snaps and Thomas a few, both behind Fortenberry at right tackle.
They’re trying to work their way into the rotation, too.
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