Once again, Bo Levi Mitchell is rising to the occasion.
Four years after leading Eastern Washington to a national title, Mitchell is poised to grab another brass ring, this time in the Canadian Football League.
With Mitchell at the controls, the Calgary Stampeders will face the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the Grey Cup on Sunday in Vancouver.
“It’s a pretty big deal – they’ve been waiting a long time to bring that cup home,” said Mitchell, who saw action as a rookie two years ago when the Stampeders fell to Toronto.
Now in his third year, Mitchell has made the same impact he did in Cheney, where he won the FCS title in 2010 and the Walter Payton Award the next.
Mitchell has started 14 games out of 17, and completed 264 of 417 passes (63.3 percent) for 3,389 yards and 22 touchdowns and eight interceptions. His 98.3 efficiency rating was the highest in the league, helping the Stampeders to a league-best 15-3 record.
Along the way, Mitchell tied Jeff Garcia for the CFL record for most consecutive wins to start a career with seven. On Sept. 6, he became the first quarterback in CFL history to win 12 of his first 13 starts.
Last week, facing former Eagles linebacker J.C. Sherritt and the Edmonton Eskimos in the Western Final, Mitchell threw five touchdown passes in a 43-18 win.
For the 24-year-old Mitchell, being the starter means “the chance to make a difference, the opportunity to prove yourself as a leader and a player.”
He has been doing that since he arrived in Calgary in the spring of 2012. That fall, he ran the ball more than he passed in his role as the Stamps’ short-yardage quarterback. In the Grey Cup, Mitchell came off the bench to finish the game and completed 6 of 9 passes for 80 yards and a touchdown and also threw for a successful two-point conversion.
Just like any rookie, Mitchell said he needed time to adjust to the faster pace of the pro game.
Last year, he started three games. As the backup, he completed 94 of 135 passes for 1,156 yards and 10 touchdowns. He also had 35 carries for 151 yards and two touchdowns.
The experience served him well, but there’s nothing like being the starter. “That’s where you get the opportunity to play and be that guy,” Mitchell said. “When you play all the time, you get the chance to learn about yourself as a person and a player.”
But even with the biggest game of his professional career in his sights, Mitchell hasn’t lost touch with his past. His brother Cody is a senior wide receiver at EWU.
Even as he prepared for the Grey Cup, Mitchell was hoping to make it the Eagles’ playoff game on Dec. 6.
“I’m definitely going to make it out at some point – I’d love to make it to that,” Mitchell said.
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