With the talent and depth Eastern Washington University has returning at wide receiver from last year’s NCAA Division I championship football team, it probably isn’t time to cue in “the other Mitchell” just yet.
But if Cory, the older brother of Eagles starting quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell, continues to dazzle the way he did in Saturday’s 68-play spring scrimmage at Roos Field, that time might not be all that far off.
Cory, a 6-foot-2, 195-pound freshman, who is actually two years older than his senior-to-be brother, hauled in six passes for 148 yards and one touchdown – including a 23-yard scoring strike from Bo Levi – to highlight another situational, and highly spirited, scrimmage.
“It felt good out there today,” said Cory, who opted to go to work for AT&T after graduating from Katy (Texas) High School, where Bo Levi later emerged as a two-year starter at quarterback. “All the hard work – studying the playbook, watching film and everything else – it’s all starting to pay off.
“It’s starting to get a little bit easier with all the repetitions I’m getting. But, really, I just go out there, try to do what they tell me to do and then try to catch the ball.”
Bo Levi, who was named the Most Outstanding Player in January’s 20-19 win over Delaware in the final of the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs in Frisco, Texas, isn’t surprised by how effective his older brother – who enrolled at EWU and redshirted last fall – has been this spring.
“I know he’s that kind of player,” said the younger Mitchell, who also tossed a 10-yard touchdown pass to tight end David Miles on Saturday. “But I think it took him a little time to get back in the swing of things. He’s been here a year now, and he’s finally starting to get into the playbook and starting to feel more comfortable.
“But, again, he played great today. He’s one of those guys who always makes plays – bad ball, tipped ball, whatever. Even that tipped throw of mine on fourth down wasn’t meant for him, but he caught it.”
Eagles coach Beau Baldwin also liked what he saw from the other Mitchell.
“The good thing is, it hasn’t been just one scrimmage,” Baldwin said of Cory. “In a lot of live situations, in practices and scrimmage, he’s consistently made plays and done things. I’ve been excited to see that out of Cory.”
Despite the big play made by the Mitchell brothers and EWU’s offense, the defense also had its moments, with Renard Williams, Jerry Ceja and Zach Johnson all registering sacks, and the secondary breaking up six passes.
T.J. Lee and former EWU basketball player Alden Gibbs, two of the four players battling for the two starting cornerback spots, each finished with four tackles.
The list of candidates to replace last year’s senior starters – Dante Calcote and Jesse Hoffman – at the corners was recently reduced by one when junior-to-be Artise Gauldin, who lettered as a backup last fall, decided to leave the team and quit school.
“Basically, he chose not to come back. That’s the best way I can put,” Baldwin said of Gauldin’s departure. “So we basically lost three corners off last year’s team, which is going to make that a good position battle and good challenge all spring.”
The Eagles will practice Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday this week, before wrapping up spring practice Saturday with their annual Red-White Game that will kick off at 2 p.m. at Roos Field.