Head Football Coach Ruffin McNeill Makes Staff Change
ECU Head Football Coach Ruffin McNeill Discusses The Upcoming Navy Game
ECU Head Football Coach Ruffin McNeill Discusses The Upcoming UTEP Game
Head Football Coach Ruffin McNeill Discusses The Upcoming Appalachian State Game
Pirates Prep For First Scrimmage At Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium
Watch interviews with Lincoln Riley and Brian Mitchell following Friday morning's practice.
Brian Mitchell is in his third season as East Carolina's defensive coordinator and secondary coach, a position he accepted on Jan. 25, 2010 that reunited him with head coach Ruffin McNeill.
Mitchell, who spent 11 years as a defensive assistant at Brigham Young and most recently served four seasons as the cornerbacks coach at Texas Tech, was faced with the daunting task of completely rebuilding a Pirate defense in 2010 that lost nine of it 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, which slowed Mitchell's progress.
Despite the personnel shortages, the Pirates still rated among the nation's better turnover-producing units - standing 35th 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 redzone 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.
At Texas Tech, Mitchell's cornerbacks contributed solid performances in each of his last four seasons in Lubbock. 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 1994, before landing a position as defensive backs coach the following year on legendary collegiate coach LaVell Edwards' staff.
Mitchell, 43, 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.
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 while 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.
Mitchell and his wife, Carri, have two daughters, Mikenzi and Halie, and a son, Brian.