“Brian is an excellent addition to the West Virginia football staff and has a wealth of experience as a cornerbacks coach,” Holgorsen said. “He brings a lot of energy, is an aggressive recruiter, and I have seen him develop young players into great players. He is an outstanding coach and even better person, and I look forward to him joining our program.”
During his coaching tenure, he has been on coaching staffs that have won five conference titles and made 11 bowl appearances. He has coached nine defensive backs who have advanced to the NFL. Mitchell comes to West Virginia after serving the past three years as the defensive coordinator and secondary coach at East Carolina.
“It’s an honor to be associated with a program that has a great winning tradition such as West Virginia,” Mitchell said. “I believe the fans are second to none; the state is second to none. It is a privilege to earn the right to go through this process to be a part of this family. It’s a natural fit for me, coaching cornerbacks, because I played the position at all three levels, in high school, college and in the NFL. I was fortunate enough to play in the NFL with some very dominate football players such as Deion Sanders. I was able to learn, absorb, see, hear and put together and formulate a plan to help young men be very successful at the NCAA Division I level at the cornerback position. Knowledge is key to all things. I’ve been able to acquire that knowledge over the years and have had success of consistently putting a good product on the field.”
In his first year at ECU in 2010, he was faced with the daunting task of rebuilding a Pirate defense that lost nine of its 11 starters from the previous campaign - including the entire front seven. Further compounding the struggles were the loss of three prominent two-deep members during the season because of injuries. Despite the personnel shortages, the Pirates still rated among the nation’s better turnover-producing units – tying for 34th in fumbles recovered (11) and among the top 60 in total takeaways (22) during his initial year. In 2011, Mitchell spearheaded and provided oversight to the implementation of a 3-4 scheme - an alignment that produced immediate results and earned ECU a reputation as one of most improved units nationally.
The turnaround enabled the Pirates to move up 64 places on the FBS total defense rankings, allowing 102.5 fewer yards per game, and jump 22 spots in scoring defense by surrendering nearly 12 points per contest less than a year earlier. The attacking approach also helped ECU stand 17th nationally in fumbles recovered, 35th in red zone efficiency defense and 41st in fourth-down conversion percentage.
From a position standpoint, Mitchell tutored cornerback Emanuel Davis to back-to-back All-Conference USA selections and developed Damon Magazu into a ball-hawking free safety who led the team with four interceptions and three fumble recoveries in 2011. In 2012, the Pirates tied UCF for first place in the Eastern Division of Conference USA with a 7-1 league record and made their second bowl appearance in three years.
Mitchell served a four-year stint on Mike Leach’s staff at Texas Tech from 2006-09 as cornerbacks coach. His cornerbacks contributed solid performances each of his four seasons. Jamar Wall led the group with 62 tackles and two interceptions in 2008 and earned All-Big 12 honors in 2009 after ranking second nationally with 17 passes defended. The Red Raider pass defense ranked best in the Big 12 Conference in 2006 and 2007, limiting opponents to 188.4 yards per game in 2007 - the only Big 12 program to hold opponents below 200 yards per game.
Following a brief career in the NFL, Mitchell returned to his alma mater, BYU, and earned a degree in clinical social work in 1995, before landing a position as defensive backs coach the following year on the staff of legendary coach LaVell Edwards. Mitchell enjoyed success in 11 overall coaching seasons with the Cougars, helping guide the team to five bowl appearances and a high ranking of No. 5 at the conclusion of the 1996 season. Furthermore, the Cougars captured back-to-back Western Athletic Conference championships during his stay, which included the ’96 squad that rolled to a 14-1 record. While at BYU, he also served as the faculty advisor to the Black Student Union from 1995-02.
Mitchell, a native of Waco, Texas, played at BYU from 1987-90 and was a seventh-round pick of the Atlanta Falcons in 1991. He spent three seasons in the NFL, splitting time with Atlanta and the Dallas Cowboys. The All-WAC cornerback played in four bowls with the Cougars and ran the opening leg of BYU’s All-America 400M relay team. He still holds the school record for the longest interception return, a 97-yard effort against New Mexico in 1989. His 13 career interceptions stand fifth in the school’s record book, while his five picks in 1989 were a season high.