Injury cuts Mitchell's first season at Wisconsin short; Shady Side graduate excited about future with Badgers
After an outstanding football career at Shady Side Academy, Wisconsin freshman defensive back Reggie Mitchell was ready to continue the success this season.
Things started out well enough for Mitchell as he avoided a redshirt and made the trip to Nebraska for the Badgers' Big Ten opener and saw action in the game.
“I was on special teams and also saw a few plays on defense,” Mitchell said. “I had to watch Kenny Bell, who's an extremely fast receiver. I thought I did well.”
Mitchell's hopes of seeing even more extensive action soon evaporated when he suffered a knee injury in October.
“I had to sit out for three games and then I received a medical redshirt for the year, so I'll still have four years of eligibility,” he said.
He saw a ray of hope in his misfortune.
“I feel that this will help me in the long run,” Mitchell said. “I felt that I could've made some plays this year but things happen for a reason.
“My knee is 100 percent and I'll be ready to go next year.”
Mitchell noticed the difference between playing WPIAL Class AA football and D-I football before he even stepped on the field for the Badgers.
“I went to summer workouts and noticed right away that everybody is as fast or faster than you,” he said. “I realized then that technique and awareness of where you're supposed to be and what you're supposed to be doing are very important at this level.
“Everybody on the field is an outstanding athlete.”
He was also in awe of the crowd size at the college game.
“It's a big difference,” Mitchell said. “I was used to playing in front of 200 people at SSA and then I went on the field at Lincoln, Nebraska and there were 100,000 people. It was crazy.
“I looked at the crowd and felt blessed to be given the opportunity to be playing at this level. I thought of all the people who helped me to get here.”
Mitchell, along with most of his teammates, was surprised when former coach Brett Bielema left.
“That pretty much shocked everyone,” he said. “Nobody expected it. But we've gotten a proven winner coming in with Coach (Gary) Anderson.
“He's already spoken to us and we're confident that our success on the field will continue.”
Although he didn't get a chance to return home and see any SSA games this season, he continued to follow his alma mater's fortunes.
“I would go online every Saturday morning and see how the team did on Friday,” Mitchell said. “I also keep in contact with Jarred (Brevard), Dennis (Briggs), and Tyrell (Hill).
“They had a pretty good season and I'm sure they'll be good next year.”
Marty Stewart is a sports editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-782-2123 or firstname.lastname@example.org.