The Florida Gators football program is currently in the middle of spring football practices with many new faces on the team and a plethora of new players in new roles.
One of the players experiencing a new role is sophomore safety Miguel Mitchell, who is expected to start at safety in 2023 after spending most of his freshman season as a backup and at the STAR position. Mitchell appeared in all 13 games last season and made one start against South Carolina. He recorded 15 total tackles, eight of which were solo, one tackle for loss and forced one fumble. This season, he’ll move back to safety and is expected to start opposite of fellow sophomore Kamari Wilson.
Now, with a new role set and a familiar face at defensive coordinator in Austin Armstrong, Mitchell will be one of the many new faces leading the way for the Gator defense.
New Year, New Role for Miguel Mitchell
Mitchell enters spring as one of the most veteran members of the safety room despite limited experience at the position. After playing mostly STAR last season, he will focus on playing at the traditional safety spot, a position where Florida experienced a lot of attrition over the offseason.
@MMitchell_10 working on tracking down the ball @InsideTheGators pic.twitter.com/nUFSZqsnHm
— Cam Parker (@camparker25) March 9, 2023
Florida lost five scholarship safeties from the 2022 season, paving the way for Mitchell to be the starter opposite of Wilson.
Trey Dean III and Rashad Torrence II, who were the starters the last two seasons, are off to the NFL. Meanwhile, Donovan McMillon, Corey Collier Jr. and Kamar Wilcoxson all transferred out of the program.
Mitchell spoke of the opportunity ahead of him and credited Dean III and Torrence II for mentoring him during his freshman season.
A Familiar Face at Defensive Coordinator
After Patrick Toney’s departure to the NFL, head coach Billy Napier brought in Armstrong, the former Southern Miss defensive coordinator, to replace him. Despite being a relatively new face for the team, Mitchell knows his new coordinator from his days at Oxford High School. Armstrong recruited Mitchell while he was the defensive coordinator at Southern Miss.
Although he eventually chose Florida, Mitchell said that Armstrong’s energy and his aggressive defenses stood out. In 2021, the Golden Eagles improved 18 spots in total defense while ranking in the Top 10 nationally in multiple categories.
In 2020, he was the linebackers coach at Louisiana under Napier. That season, the Ragin’ Cajun defense ranked second nationally in interceptions with 15. Additionally, they had the third-best passing efficiency in the country (96.27).
Last season, his aggressive play calling helped Southern Miss’ defense improve for a second-straight season. Nationally, the Golden Eagles ranked third in tackles for loss with 8.3 per game, fifth in sacks with 3.38 per game and seventh in total interceptions with 17.
Mitchell explained that this familiarity with Armstrong has made the transition easy. Additionally, he added that Armstrong isn’t changing much with the defense as he ran a similar defense to Toney.
Gators Spring Football
Now in week two of the spring season, the Gators are getting ready to turn the page on this chapter of Napier’s offseason regime. Florida will have two more weeks of practices including ones on Thursday and on Saturday, this week.
Spring football concludes with the Orange and Blue spring football scrimmage, which will be held on Thursday, April 13. Kickoff set for 7:30 p.m.