Stamford Advocate

Mitchell evolving into Huskies’ leader

- By Doug Bonjour

UConn sophomore Jackson Mitchell habitually watches the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

But it’s not because of Tom Brady. Or Rob Gronkowski. Or Mike Evans. Or anyone else on offense.

Rather, Mitchell’s eyes are often affixed on linebacker Devin White.

“I watch a lot of NFL film, study some of the better linebacker­s in the league,” said Mitchell, a Ridgefield native. “I watch how they play and try to add things they have into my game.”

It is part of Mitchell’s evolution as a player, figuring out ways to enhance his play while taking on more responsibi­lity as a focal point of the Huskies’ defense.

A linebacker himself, the 6-foot-2, 229-pound Mitchell leads the country in tackles with 45 — seven more than Utah’s Devin Lloyd. He had a career-high 16 last Saturday against Army and 15 the previous week versus Purdue.

“He is playing at a high level with an impressive schedule,” interim coach Lou Spanos said. “He’s just getting better, better and better. He practices hard, he’s wired in meetings.”

The most impressive aspect, in interim defensive coordinato­r Jarren Horton’s eyes, has been Mitchell’s work ethic and willingnes­s to embrace a larger leadership position — especially amid a difficult start to the season.

“When he first got here, he was a really quiet, reserved kid. Now he’s the leader of this defense,” Horton said. “That’s what I say (to him) every day: ‘Lead this defense.’

“I love Jackson. He’s awesome. He puts in the time.”

The Huskies’ defense has been a mess, allowing an average of 46 points and 496 yards per game (ranking 127th and 124th nation

 ?? UConn athletics / Contribute­d photo ?? UConn linebacker Jackson Mitchell (43) of Ridgefield.
UConn athletics / Contribute­d photo UConn linebacker Jackson Mitchell (43) of Ridgefield.

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