Every day until fall camp begins for Ohio State, we will profile a different Buckeye football player. Today that player is senior linebacker Teradja Mitchell. Yesterday it was wide receiver Marvin Harrison. You can find all of the daily Scoop Profiles right here.
No. 3 | Linebacker | 6-2 235 | Senior | Bishop Sullivan High School | Virginia Beach, Virginia
How’d He Get Here
Ohio State offered Teradja Mitchell six years ago in the summer leading into his junior season at Bishop Sullivan High School in Virginia Beach, Virginia. He ultimately signed with the Buckeyes over Florida State even though reports had him leaning towards the Seminoles in the weeks leading up to his announcement. Mitchell was ranked the No. 2 inside linebacker in the 2018 class and the No. 44 player nationally. He also held offers from Alabama, Clemson, and everywhere else in the Southeast. Mitchell spent his freshman season on special teams. The last two years have been spent as the backup Will linebacker.
Teradja Mitchell has never started a game at Ohio State, but he’s as close to an incumbent as the Buckeyes have at linebacker. As Malik Harrison’s backup in 2019 and Pete Werner’s backup in 2020, Mitchell found himself watching and learning from some very good linebackers. He was able to get on the field defensively in every game last year, despite the Buckeyes playing four other linebackers frequently. Those four linebackers are now gone, leaving rising seniors Mitchell, Dallas Gant, and K’Vaughan Pope. Mitchell was with the first-team with the Buckeyes at Will linebacker this spring. He is expected to start this year and is a good bet to lead the defense in tackles this year.
What to Like
Even though Teradja Mitchell has never been a starter, he’s still seen plenty in his first three years with the Buckeyes. He has also actually played while games were still in doubt, which is key. As linebackers coach Al Washington would say, Mitchell is a contact seeker and doesn’t shy away from the physicality against larger opponents. Washington also likes Mitchell’s ability to find the football. He is an active defender who is big enough to handle being inside the box. He has also dropped weight in order to increase his speed. Mitchell talked this spring about how seriously he is taking this opportunity. The patience he has shown is on the verge of paying off.
What’s the Ceiling This Year?
Teradja Mitchell’s ceiling may be impacted by the transfer portal. The Buckeyes have been looking to the portal for linebacker options, which may or may not affect Mitchell. The Ohio State defense seems like it is moving to more of a 4-2-5, which will essentially give the Buckeyes just two linebackers in the base defense. Mitchell is the most experienced returner for the Buckeyes. His ceiling has him leading this team with over 100 tackles while also accumulating a few highlight shots throughout the year. Big Ten accolades would not be a surprise at all. Mitchell has waited his turn and it would be a surprise if he didn’t make the most of it.
The roster may list Teradja Mitchell as a senior, but he could choose to return in 2022 for a second year as a starter. In theory, this would help increase his draft stock. If he approaches his ceiling this year, however, there may be no need to increase his draft stock. Still, Ohio State has had just five linebackers taken in the first round of the NFL draft over the last 25 years, so history tells us there’s always some stock that can be improved. Mitchell has been one of those players at Ohio State that fans have wanted to see for years, but they pale in comparison to how badly he’s wanted to be out there. There is a sense that Mitchell is finally free to show what he can do. The only thing that will hold him back now is himself, and he’s been working to make sure that doesn’t happen.