From spreading out the defense to opening up about his story, “Gunslinger” is ready for another title run as EWU opens the season Saturday at Washington
Coming off his inaugural season at Eastern Washington University, “Gunslinger,” as his uncle called him, is ready to once again take the field and represent his family of Eagles.
Senior Bo Levi Mitchell helped lead his team to an amazing, come-from-behind victory in the 2010 NCAA Division I Championship Game. The 20-19 victory over Delaware in Frisco, Texas, on Jan. 7, 2011, was a triumphant return to the Lone Star State for Mitchell, as 50 family members and friends watched on. He is formerly from Katy, Texas, and played two seasons at Southern Methodist University before transferring to EWU.
But the two-time Eastern co-captain knows that he has a lot more ahead of him this season. And he’ll do it alongside his older brother, Cory Mitchell, who is a freshman redshirt wide receiver for the Eagles.
Opening against the University of Washington is a big game, but he says the biggest game on his radar is the Montana State matchup on Sept. 24. Having to share the Big Sky Conference championship last season with the Bobcats is something that Mitchell and his fellow teammates are not wanting again.
Mitchell joins wide receiver Brandon Kaufman on the “Watch List” for the Walter Payton Award, which is an honor that is given by The Sports Network to the top player in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision. In addition, Mitchell was selected by Lindy’s Magazine as its preseason FCS Offensive Player of the Year and was selected to three preseason All-America teams.
In 2010, he was selected as the Most Outstanding Player in the national championship game after earning All-Big Sky Conference honorable-mention honors and Big Sky All-Academic accolades. But beyond that, Mitchell was selected as the Eastern Washington University Student of the Year by the Easterner student newspaper. That award was given to him not only for his impact on the university through football, but through his heart for the community. In his free time, Mitchell spent time at Cheney High School tutoring students in the Advancement Via Individual Determination program (AVID). In that program, he spent five hours a week to help prepare students to get a college education.
A huge priority on Mitchell’s mind is that he wants to leave a legacy at the University of being able to step-up and fill the shoes of Eastern’s two previous award-winning quarterbacks.
The three touchdowns passes Mitchell had in the national title game pushed him to a school-record 37 touchdowns in the season, which put him past the 34 of his predecessor, Matt Nichols. Nichols led Eastern too a pair of playoff berths and was a two-time All-American. The quarterback before Nichols was another two-time All-American Erik Meyer, who led Eastern to the playoffs twice and won the Walter Payton Award in 2005.
Mitchell also broke school records in 2010 for attempted passes (505) and completions (300). His 3,496 yards in 2010 are already just 580 yards from earning a spot on EWU’s top 10 career list. And most importantly, while All-America running back Taiwan Jones was out with a foot injury, Mitchell led the team to a 3-0 record.
The legacy for the “Gunslinger” is looking to be polished so far, and time will tell what else he adds to it this season.
Q: What has been the biggest difference in your experience at EWU than at SMU?
A: “I would say EWU seems so much like a family. I know that sounds cliché, but it’s true. Here, the football team is a family, even with the staff and the community. Everyone is always supporting you and wanting you to do great.”
Q: What game are you looking forward to this year the most?
A: “September 24th -- Montana State. They got us last year in Bozeman and they smacked us. I think we were the better team and we proved that in the playoffs. One thing I am looking forward to is going out there and showing them who we really are on our home turf.”
Q: In ten years, what do you want people to think of Bo Levi Mitchell’s legacy at EWU?
A: “Hopefully a good one -- someone that came here and was able to fill-in for two great quarterbacks. I want to be someone who is always here and had a good time playing for EWU.”
Q: Who would you say your coach reminds you of
in the television industry?
A: “I wouldn’t have a specific one, but I would say a newscaster from the old day. I could see him in a suit with hair slicked to the side.”
Q: Other than your brother, who is your
favorite teammate and why?
A: “Bobby Gentry. He is just one of those guys who is always into it -- always that guy at practice that does something to make you laugh and kind of takes your mind off football a little bit. He is always just going out of his way to do the extra thing.”
Q: What is your most embarrassing moment or uncoordinated move?
A: “I was walking out to practice and a TV reporter asked to do a little camera interview. I am walking on my cleats on the concrete and completely slip. I fall down, throw my helmet on the ground and it bounces up, then I hit my elbow on the ground. The worst part was that I didn’t get to practice that day because I hurt my arm.”
Q: Can you explain your nickname “Gunslinger”?
A: “My uncle used to call me that a lot. Then he passed away in a motorcycle accident, so I got a tattoo on my arm as kind of a tribute to him. It’s a typical name for a quarterback.”
Q: If you could meet one person who would it be?
A: “Flo from the Progressive Insurance commercials -- she’s super funny and she always makes me laugh a lot. It would be funny to spend a day with her.”
Q: If you had a million dollars, what would you do with it and why?
A: “I’m not going to give the typical answer and say I am going to buy my mom a house and my dad a car. But if I had a million dollars I would put a giant trampoline in my house on the floors so I could jump from room to room, along with a basketball court and a bowling alley.”
Q: What is your most frequently visited website?
A: “YouTube. I go to YouTube a lot just to check out the most frequently viewed videos because I think it’s funny to watch. I’m not too big of a Facebook guy, and definitely don’t use Twitter.”
Q: You get nervous when you think about…
A: “My future wedding, thinking about how I am going to be the guy that messes up walking down the aisle, says the wrong thing to his wife in his vows or something.”
Q: What is one thing you use each day that you can’t imagine living without?
A: “My Xbox. I guess most people say their phone or Facebook, but I love playing hours and hours of video games.”
Q: If you had three wishes what would they be?
A: “Go to the NFL and play for a long time; marry Gisele Bundchen; and have an endless bank account so I can pretty much buy anything I want to.”