Xavier Mitchell: From Neyland to Oliver Springs

There’s no orange and white, no checkerboards on the field. At Oliver Springs, it’s all purple and gold.

The Bobcats are 4-3 and at the start of the season welcomed in a new defensive coordinator, Xavier Mitchell.

“We were looking for a defensive coordinator and we found him out,” said ninth year head coach Wiley Brackett. “He was working at the plants here.”

“We went down and watched some of the state championship last year,” explained Mitchell. “Coach Brackett approached me and we’ve just been moving forward ever since.”

Mitchell played defensive end at Tennessee from 2004-2007. Now he’s trying his hand at coaching.

“He totally came in and did his own defense,” said Brackett. “You know, he’s doing something different every play, they just swarm to the football “

“Last year it was more pursue the ball kind of defense,” said senior outside linebacker Eddie Stephenson. “This year it’s more zone, think about what you’re doing.”

“We got taught to read different,” senior middle linebacker Dakota Miles. “Read the backfield differently, but I think it was all for the best honestly.”

Mitchell played under defensive coordinator John Chavis at Tennessee. Some of Coach X’s defense is similar to the Chief.

“Coach Chavis is one of the most fired up and focused people that I’ve ever encountered in my life,” said Mitchell. “I try to take that out here each and every day.”

“He talks about Coach Chavis, what a great man he was and how he cared about the players like coach X does,” said Brackett.

Coach X knows the game, but coaching was a new frontier.

“I had to prove myself to them, not only that I knew what I was doing, but that I cared about them. I got some advice from my high school coach. They don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

“We knew he knew what he was talking about,” said Miles. “We really wanted to really listen to him and hopefully we can get to where he got.”

Oliver Springs plays at Sunbright on Friday night.

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Xavier Mitchell: From Neyland to Oliver Springs
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