AUBURN, Ala. — It's easy for Rhett Lashlee to gush about Jakell Mitchell. Auburn's offensive coordinator could praise the true freshman's athleticism or pass-catching ability. But one of the attributes Lashlee values the most has nothing to do with the game itself.
He loves Mitchell's fight.
"He is not scared of anybody," Lashlee said. "He's what, 215 pounds and he'll hit the biggest guy on our team in the mouth as hard as he can and not back down."
When Mitchell first got on campus, Lashlee wasn't sure what to make of the Opelika native. As the Tigers' preseason camp concluded Sunday, Lashlee was pleased enough with Mitchell's progress that he believed the first-year player could see the field this season.
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"He's very athletic, can really fly and really good in space. He's played the position before, he's played that at Opelika with Coach (Brian) Blackmon, so he's familiar with it," Lashlee said. "He's just now has to pick up the mental aspect and physically, we're not going to put 20-30 pounds on him before the season, so we'll see where that puts him this year. ... In what role and capacity that will be will depend on injuries and what not, he's definitely somebody in the mix."
Lashlee isn't the only person Mitchell has impressed thus far. C.J. Uzomah has also noticed Mitchell's fiery mentality first-hand.
"He said (Friday) that he weighed 212, but when we get in those hook-up drills with the defensive line, you honestly can't tell," the senior tight end said. "There are times when he's technique is flawed because he's a freshman, which is understandable. That kid gets after it. He's just a hard worker. No matter who they line him up against, he's not scared. He's fearless and we kind of love that about him."
And Mitchell was able to end camp on a high note, scoring a touchdown in the Tigers' final scrimmage of fall camp on Saturday in Jordan-Hare Stadium. According to linebacker JaViere Mitchell (no relation), the freshman tight end did most of the work on the touchdown, going "60 or 70 yards" on a slant route.
"He did a good job of running scared for that touchdown, there was about five people after him," Lashlee said. "But Jakell has had a good camp. He came in and like any freshman — and at his position, they move around and do a lot of things — the first week was kind of crazy for him. But I'm really proud of him because he stayed the course, he focused in."