In action this Saturday in the Red-White Game, transfer from SMU looks to take over quarterback reins for Eagles
By Keenan Bowen, EWU Sports Information
With so many new quarterbacks vying for the job left vacated by All-American and two-time Big Sky Conference Offensive Player of the Year Matt Nichols, it has been difficult telling apart Eastern Washington University’s field generals in mostly un-numbered blue jerseys this spring.
But Bo has the glove.
Junior Bo Levi Mitchell is one of five players battling for the starting and backup positions at quarterback during spring practices running from March 31-April 29. Mitchell and the others will have a big chance to prove themselves in the annual Red-White Game that will take place on Saturday, April 24 at 2 p.m. at Woodward Field in Cheney, Wash.
Mitchell transferred to Eastern this off-season after spending his first two years at Southern Methodist University, where he started as a true freshman for legendary coach June Jones. He started all 19 of the games he played before injuring his non-throwing shoulder halfway through the 2009 season. He never regained the starting position and decided to transfer.
The glove on his right throwing hand -- a la NFL star Kurt Warner -- made him easy to pick out initially. His production, quick release, hard throws and pin-point touch in recent weeks have helped make him even more identifiable since then.
“Everybody sees the physical tools -- they are
there,” Eastern head coach Beau Baldwin said
last week. “He can fling the ball around, and not only that,
he can put touch on the ball and put it in spots. He’s making
a few mental mistakes, but there aren’t as many as you
usually get from somebody who just got here -- that’s what
has impressed me the most about him.”
Mitchell, a 2008 graduate of Katy (Texas) High School, was recruited by Eastern out of high school and became the first school he looked to when transferring. In two spring scrimmages thus far, Mitchell has completed 21-of-29 passes for 277 yards and three touchdowns -- all to sophomore Nicholas Edwards -- with just one interception.
Q: You wear a glove on your throwing hand, what is the story behind that?
A: “It started my freshman year when we played at Navy, and it was really cold and wet outside. The coaches told me to try the glove and I’ve kept it ever since.”
Q: We’ve heard your family is making an exodus to Cheney -- when are all of your brothers going to join you here at Eastern?
A: “My older brother is up here now and we hang out a lot. My second oldest brother Cory will be out here to play receiver for us and my little brother might walk on. I am really excited to make it out here. Once all my brothers get up here they’ll meet everybody and we’ll all start hanging out.”
Q: With 6-foot-3 Nicholas Edwards and 6-5 Brandon Kaufman in the lineup, how nice is it to have tall wide receivers to throw to on the outside?
A: “At SMU I was used to the outside wide receivers being speedy and short. It feels good to have taller receivers outside because they can go out and make plays. On both of the post routes I threw to Edwards this past scrimmage he went up and made great catches. It gives you confidence as a quarterback to know you can put a ball out there and, even if it isn’t the exact throw you want, your receivers will make a play.”
Q: You took a recruiting trip to EWU out of high school. What stood out about Eastern that led you to consider the Eagles when transferring?
A: “Matt (Nichols) helped me out a lot and he told me how it was out here. He is a real cool guy. It was fun to hang out with him and he showed me around. When I met all the football players they were all genuine and personable -- family-like. All the coaches are great and they are all young.”
Q: How have you taken to the offense here at Eastern?
A: “I really like the offense. I like coming under center a little bit and getting to run the ball a little bit more. Having those big guys on the outside and those quick guys on the inside is really nice. I am converting nicely. The players around me have helped out immensely -- they are making it easy on me.”
Q: Have you run into problems learning the new system since transferring?
A: “The change of terminology is the only thing that is taking time getting used to. Also, the cadence is a little bit different than what I was used to but I am getting the hang of things.”
Q: The battle for the starting quarterback position is down to five, how do you like your chances?
A: “I am going to get out there and do everything I can to make sure I am the No. 1 guy. We all know there are big shoes to fill with Matt leaving, and just the quarterback tradition at Eastern in general. I think I can be that next guy and I think I can carry us to that next level on the national stage.”