If you think Ohio State is just a football factory, 4-star linebacker Teradja Mitchell thinks you’re wrong. In fact, when asked when and why he ultimately chose Ohio State over Florida State, he got straight to the point. The answer may surprise you.
“Last week, I realized [Ohio State] was the place,” Mitchell told Land of 10. “It came down to academics.”
Naturally, cynics will suggest Mitchell, the country’s No. 2-ranked inside linebacker per the 247Sports composite, is just blowing smoke and that it was more likely the Buckeyes’ continued on-field success and ridiculous NFL success that acted as the driving force. In truth though, both Florida State and Ohio State can claim those things and do so honestly.
“Both schools are top notch as far as developing players and winning championships,” said Mitchell, who wants to major in business and marketing. “So, it came down to academics. Ohio State is one of the few schools that give you the best of both worlds, as far as football and academics. It’s one of the few schools I’d go to if football was taken away.”
Prior to an early April visit to Ohio State, Mitchell’s decision was uncertain. It seems that in every big recruiting battle, there’s one key moment that turns the tables. It was the April visit which did just that.
“How serious [Urban] Meyer is about education and the support systems I’ll have with academic advisors and the parent support group they have,” Mitchell said when asked how that visit opened the eyes of his family. “They showed us a video about, and gave us actually examples of, how those tools and support systems have been put to use.
“It was a tad unexpected. That impressed my parents the most, just the vibe of the coaching staff.”
The “vibe” of the coaching staff was obviously different than when Ohio State began pursuing the 6-foot-2, 243-pound Mitchell. As noted, it was Luke Fickell who he expected to be his position coach when he began to entertain the idea of being a Buckeye. Florida State was the long-time favorite, and the Buckeyes were tasked with the difficult job of replacing Fickell, who is basically “Mr. Buckeye”, with Billy Davis, and in doing so needed to reforge a relationship with Mitchell and his family. The Virginia Beach, Va., standout admits he didn’t think that would happen as quickly as it did.
“After Coach Fickell left I tried to build a solid relationship with [Davis],” he said. “I figured it’d be very hard to replace him. It was very important during the process to talk to your actual position coach because that’s the coach you’ll see the most outside of the conditioning and strength coaches. Now, I love Coach Davis. In my opinion, he’s arguably the best in the game.”
So maybe it is a bit more than just academics? Mitchell isn’t changing his tune, but he’s also not ignoring the importance of football in his decision.
“You can’t beat  years of NFL experience from your linebackers coach.”