Longevity and commitment are two words that accurately describe second-year cornerbacks coach Brian Mitchell. Mike Leach lured Mitchell back to his homestate of Texas last year after Mitchell spent 11 seasons as the defensive backs coach at his alma mater, BYU.
The Waco native's approach to coaching reflects his calm and caring demeanor as Red Raider defenders quickly adapted to Mitchell and his defensive philosophy last spring.
The Texas Tech defense didn't skip a beat during his first season in 2006 as Red Raider corners picked four of the team's 11 interceptions. Starters Antonio Huffman and Chris Parker snagged two each as the Red Raider pass defense ranked first in the Big 12 Conference. Parker, in his first season as a starter, blossomed under Mitchell and posted 50 tackles and six pass breakups.
Following a brief career in the NFL, Mitchell returned to BYU and earned a degree in clinical social work in 1994, before landing a position as defensive backs coach the following year on legendary collegiate coach LaVell Edwards' staff.
Mitchell had an outstanding career in 11 seasons with the Cougars, helping guide the team to five bowl appearances and a high ranking of No. 5 at the conclusion of the 1996 season. The Cougars played in the Cotton Bowl that season, knocking off Kansas State, 19-15. Additionally, the 1994 (18th) and 2001 (24th) teams finished among the top 25.
In his second year with the program, BYU won back-to-back Western Athletic Conference championships, including 1996 when the team went 14-1.
Mitchell coached several outstanding players on the Cougar defense, including safety Aaron Francisco, who was a two-time first-team All-Mountain West Conference pick in 2003 and 2004. Francisco went on to play for the Arizona Cardinals. Brian Gray and Jenaro Gilford were all-conference performers in 1999 and 2001, respectively.
Mitchell's 2003 pass defense ranked eighth nationally, while the total defense was 14th. The 1999 total defense unit finished 21st.
Mitchell played at BYU from 1987-90 and was a seventh-round pick of the Atlanta Falcons in 1991. He spent three seasons in the NFL, splitting time with Atlanta and the Dallas Cowboys. The All-WAC cornerback played in four bowls while at BYU adn ran the opening leg of BYU's All-American 400M relay team.
Mitchell still holds the BYU record for longest interception return, a 97-yard effort against New Mexico in 1989. His 13 career interceptions ranks in a fifth-place tie on the school lists, while his five picks in 1989 was a season high.
Mitchell and his wife, Carri, have two daughters, Mikenzi and Halie, and a son, Brian.