Despite QB Marcus Mariota having already announced that he will return to the University of Oregon next season, cornerback Terrance Mitchell has decided to leave what should be a very potent Ducks team to head to the NFL after three years as a starter. Mitchell made the announcement on Thursday.
Mitchell earned his degree from Oregon in December 2013. He redshirted in 2010 before starting in 38 of Oregon's 40 games from 2011 to 2013.
Mitchell led the Ducks in 2013 with 5 interceptions and 12 passes defended. Over his Oregon career, he intercepted 7 passes to go along with 32 passes defended, including one pass that he intercepted and returned 51 yards for a touchdown against Washington State this season.
The self-proclaimed "underdog" turned himself from an average high school recruit into one of the better cornerbacks in the country during his time at Oregon, and he says that he's prepared to do something similar as he hopes to enter the NFL.
“Growing up always being under the radar, coming to Oregon as a three-star and then showing what I can do, that’s what my whole life has been,” Mitchell said Thursday evening. “I’m prepared for that. All I know is, when I sit down in front of the scouts, at the combine and what not, they’re going to see.”
He also said that his decision was not about leaving Oregon, but instead about moving on to make his dreams into a reality.
“I had a great four years there [at Oregon],” Mitchell said. “I just want to further my career at the next level, which is a dream of mine. I love Oregon, love everything about it. It wasn’t easy. But at the end of the day, I’ve been there for four years. We've been to three big bowls, won three big bowls in a row, accomplished a lot.”
It's not clear what Mitchell's NFL draft grade will be, but his concerns appear to be with when he'll be drafted, rather than if he'll be drafted.
“I know my ability,” Mitchell said. “Whatever happens, I know somebody’s going to pick me up, and when they see me with all the other DBs around the country, they’re going to see. I’m very confident in my ability.”
Mitchell played alongside Ifo Ekpre-Olomu over the past three seasons after Olomu broke into the starting defensive group in late 2011, making the duo one of the top cornerback tandems in the country. Olomu, widely regarded as a first round defensive talent and the better of the two Oregon juniors, has yet to announce whether or not he will return to Oregon for his senior season.
The deadline to declare for the NFL Draft is January 15.