Pitt defensive back Mitchell learns three spots on the fly

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Reggie Mitchell admits he sometimes gets a bit confused.

After all, it’s one thing for a first-year transfer player to come in and compete for a starting position. It’s another to do it at three positions.

Mitchell, a redshirt sophomore, has been Pitt’s jack-of-all-trades in the secondary this training camp, working with the first team at safety, cornerback and nickelback the past few weeks. He will play a significant role — at some position — for the Panthers this fall.

“My head’s kind of spinning sometimes,” he said. “But the more I do it — the more I get used to going from corner to safety to nickel — it gets a little easier for me.”

Mitchell, a Shady Side Academy graduate, began training camp competing with sophomore Terrish Webb for the starting strong safety job. He then started cross-training as the starting nickelback and, when injuries created a void at first-team cornerback, Mitchell slid in there, too.

Now it looks like he or freshman Avonte Maddox could challenge redshirt sophomore Trenton Coles for the starting job.

“We don’t have a lot of depth, so you’ve got to teach guys multiple positions,” defensive backs coach Troy Douglas said.

“[Mitchell has] done fine. Transitions the last three or four days have been very smooth and fluid with him and [Maddox].”

Mitchell said he doesn’t care what position he ends up playing, just as long as he gets on the field.

It has been a while for him, sitting out last year after transferring from Wisconsin, where he played in just one game as a freshman.

“I think I’ve been pretty decent across the board,” he said. “I’m really making a lot of plays at nickel. I feel like that’s when I get most of my opportunities to make plays on the ball, so I think I make a lot more plays at nickel.”

Douglas, too, said the cross-training hasn’t affected Mitchell’s productivity at any of the positions.

Even further, his ability to play all three hasn’t necessarily been a surprise to Douglas, who joined Pitt’s staff in January.

“He’s a smart kid and he’s probably the best in and out of breaks out of any of the DBs we have. I’m going to tell you something, I knew that when I got here in the spring,” Douglas said.

“All you had to do was teach him the game. He’s a smart kid and he’s kind of adapted and learned all three positions.”

And for Mitchell, learning new positions isn’t anything new. He played quarterback and defensive back in high school before focusing exclusively on the defensive side of the ball when he got to Wisconsin.

Upon arriving at Pitt, Mitchell knew one major asset he would bring was versatility.

“First day I got here really, coach [Paul] Chryst let me know I’m going to kind of be the adjuster guy,” Mitchell said. “Wherever they need me to be, just be ready.”

•NOTE — Pitt landed its 13th verbal commitment of the 2015 recruiting class when Youngstown, Ohio, running back Darrin Hall gave his pledge. Hall is rated as a four-star recruit by Rivals.com and chose the Panthers over offers from Arkansas, Illinois, Michigan State, Nebraska, West Virginia and Wisconsin, among others. He is the second running back in the class, joining Florida native Sekai Lindsay.


Sam Werner: swerner@post-gazette.com and Twitter @SWernerPG.

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