The Arkansas Razorbacks have a high-octane offense that is loaded with talent. This offense includes such high-profile players as quarterback Tyler Wilson and running back Knile Davis. One player who is not getting much notice, but will have a huge impact on the Razorbacks season, is wide receiver Brandon Mitchell.
Mitchell is a junior, and until now, he has been a backup quarterback for the Razorbacks.
A year ago, he played in nine games, in mostly mop-up duty, completing 22-of-32 passes for 271 yards and a couple of touchdowns. Unlike Wilson, Mitchell is mobile and can use his feet to accumulate yards. However, as long as Wilson is on the team, Mitchell will always be a backup, and he is too competitive to ride the bench.
In an attempt to get more playing time, Mitchell asked the coaches to split practice snaps between quarterback and wide receiver. The coaches realized that Mitchell is just too talented to be on the bench, and his request to try out at wide receiver could not come at a better time.
The Razorbacks lost three talented wideouts when Joe Adams, Jarius Wright and Greg Childs were selected in the NFL draft. Although the Razorbacks were thrilled to tie a draft record by having three wide receivers selected in the same draft, it left a gaping hole at the position. It makes perfect sense that Mitchell was given a chance to shine at the position. Mitchell responded in a way that no one could have imagined.
Mitchell did not wait long to show he could play the position. In the Hog's first scrimmage, Mitchell hauled in four catches for 58 yards and a touchdown.
Mitchell is exceeding expectations with his reps at wide receiver, and offensive coordinator Paul Petrino is raving about his performance.
“He’s one of our best receivers right now,” Petrino said. (via Kurt Voigt and Go Vols Xtra)
Mitchell is motivated to be successful in his new position, and he spent most of the summer working with Wilson on running routes and building chemistry. His experience as backup quarterback gives him an edge with an extensive working knowledge of the offense. With soft hands and an endless work ethic, Mitchell demands to be on the field.
Mitchell is now exclusively practicing at wide receiver and is only considered an emergency quarterback.
At 6'4", and 230 pounds, Mitchell will provide toughness and downfield blocking for the running game. Mitchell’s presence on the field could open holes on the outside and contribute to big playmaking with the run.
With the size to run block and tower over many of the defensive backs in the country, Mitchell is ready to go from backup to standout.
His athleticism and physical presence are impossible to ignore; he is ready to play a big role in the Razorbacks run to a championship.
James Brown is a B/R featured columnist and can be followed on Twitter. Feel free to contact James at firstname.lastname@example.org. He also is a contributor at Bookie Blitz, a sports picks website and the official blog of the World Series of Handicapping.