Linebacker Teradja Mitchell

Teradja Mitchell: Gators Ready To ‘Take A Step As A Program’ At Utah

Florida Gators linebacker Teradja Mitchell sat down with WRUF’s Steve Russell to discuss preparation for the primetime game against Utah on Thursday, his connection to Netflix’s hit “Swamp Kings” documentary and the Gators’ defense as a whole.

If you are unfamiliar with the name Teradja Mitchell, you will know who he is soon enough. The redshirt senior is a transfer, having spent the past four years in Columbus playing for Ohio State.

He arrives in the Swamp with a tall task. He will have to be the leader and a rock of a young linebacking group in 2023. Linebackers Ventrell Miller, now a Jacksonville Jaguar, and Amari Burney, who you may remember for his heroics against Utah last year, have graduated to the NFL, leaving Mitchell to fill the hole they left this year.

Mitchell had the best year of his career in 2021, recording 45 total tackles in 11 games. He is expected to start at middle linebacker alongside sophomore Shemar James.

Preparing for No. 14 Utah

Mitchell has experience against the Utes. His Buckeyes battled them in the 2022 Rose Bowl.

College football fans will remember that classic as a shootout, with the Buckeyes besting Utah 48-45. He, along with the rest of the national media, lauded quarterback Cam Rising. Rising, a fifth-year senior, will not be 100% for the matchup, but is expected to play. Mitchell complimented Rising’s decision-making and his ability to run, saying the Gators will have to mix up their looks and contain Rising. First-year defensive coordinator Austin Armstrong has a great plan for not just Rising, but all three Utah quarterbacks who may see the field, according to Mitchell.

Austin Armstrong
Austin Armstrong makes his defensive coordinator debut for the Gators against Utah. (Photo from @GatorsFB on Twitter)

“Our focus is on us,” Mitchell said when discussing the uncertainty of Utah’s quarterback situation. The linebacking corps and defense as a whole have been working relentlessly all offseason and are ready to show it Thursday night.

Tight end Brant Kuithe and running backs Ja’Quinden Jackson and Micah Bernard were other Utah offensive standouts Mitchell mentioned. He complimented their abilities, but said the Gator defense will be prepared for anything the Utes throw at them. He assured the game will be “physical” and “aggressive.”

Mitchell acknowledged that beating Utah will be a tough task. He noted the Utes’ recent home record (undefeated the past two seasons at Rice-Eccles Stadium) and the talent coach Whittingham has on his roster. However, he and the rest of the team will be ready for it.

He described Thursday night as a chance to “take a step as a program.” He also called the game “a challenge but an opportunity.” Mitchell knows the Gator defense will have a mountain to climb (pun intended) but is confident the defense can stop this potent Utah offense.

Connections to “Swamp Kings”

Mitchell said that the entire team has watched Netflix’s new “Swamp Kings” documentary. The film covers the 2005-2010 Florida football teams under Urban Meyer. Mitchell said the four-part series motivated the team and gave him a sense of pride in wearing the Florida uniform. He said the team needs to “restore the order and get back to the standard” that the Gator teams of old had set.

His connections to the documentary are plentiful. Mitchell was recruited by and played for Urban Meyer at Ohio State. He often talks to Gator great Brandon Spikes, a star of the documentary and a newly appointed assistant coach with the Gators. Their connection with UF, Meyer and the linebacker position has helped them bond and will hopefully help Mitchell grow as a player. Furthermore, his older brother was Gator legend Percy Harvin’s quarterback in high school, so he grew up watching Harvin and the Gators play.

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