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Quinyon Mitchell named a semifinalist for Bednarik Award

In the midst of yet another fantastic season, Toledo corner Quinyon Mitchell is a semifinalist for one of the more prestigious awards in college football.

MAC Championship - Toledo v Ohio Photo by Mike Mulholland/Getty Images

It is said that 71 percent of the Earth is covered in water. But what many may not know is that the other 29 percent is covered by Quinyon Mitchell.

On Tuesday afternoon, the Football Writers Association of America announced its semifinalists for the Chuck Bednarik Award for defensive college football players, with Toledo’s star defensive back Quinyon Mitchell amongst those making the.

Mitchell is joined by a bevy of NFL-bound, elite defensive players, including:

  • Kris Abrams-Draine, Missouri
  • Beanie Bishop, Jr., West Virginia
  • Edgerrin Cooper, Texas A&M
  • Howard Cross III, Notre Dame
  • Cooper DeJean, Iowa
  • Tommy Eichenberg, Ohio State
  • Jonah Elliss, Utah
  • Ashton Gillotte, Louisville
  • Jalen Green, James Madison
  • Jason Henderson, Old Dominion
  • Kris Jenkins, Michigan
  • Laiatu Latu, UCLA
  • Jer’Zahn Newton, Illinois
  • Malachi Starks, Georgia
  • T’Vondre Sweat, Texas
  • T.J. Tampa, Iowa State
  • Jeremiah Trotter, Jr., Clemson
  • Dallas Turner, Alabama
  • Peyton Wilson, NC State

The possibility of Mitchell ending up a finalist, let alone taking home the hardware, is a bit of a longshot. While he’s played at an elite level for the back-to-back MAC West champions, the field of players also on the ballot are formidable.

Despite that, he was named a semifinalist for a reason and should have his day in the spotlight. Mitchell is just one of three non-Power school players up for the prestigious award and he has shown why he belongs.

Matchup Nightmare

Mitchell became a household name last year when he turned in a four-interception, two-touchdown game in a win over Northern Illinois. In total, he amassed 27 tackles, 3.5 TFLs, 25 pass breakups (led FBS), five interceptions, and those two scores.

Thus far this year, Mitchell has 34 tackles, including a tackle-for-loss, 16 pass breakups (led Group of 5 through Week 11), and three interceptions (tied for 31st in the NCAA.)

At Toledo, Mitchell has shown an ability to completely take over a game. In that NIU game, Mitchell essentially won the game himself and can be counted upon to do so again. Mitchell has recorded at least three pass breakups three times this year. He even added a blocked punt in the win over Buffalo this year. Against Bowling Green, Mitchell came up with a crucial pass break-up at the start of the second half which stalled the Falcons’ drive and resulted in a Toledo touchdown.

NFL Draft Bound

After last year, Mitchell could have declared and found himself a day-three pick. Instead, he returned to Toledo and has earned the attention of NFL Draft experts and scouts.

As of Nov. 14th, Mitchell is projected as a second-round pick by NFL Mock Draft Database, an aggregate of all of the mock drafts on the internet ranging from the likes of Mel Kiper to smaller sites. It’s still incredibly early in the process and non-Power prospects tend to get overlooked until the offseason, so seeing Mitchell getting legitimate looks already bodes well.

The NFL loves corners with a nose for the football and Mitchell’s greatest strength is his ability to find the ball and make a play. He’s able to make up for his lack of elite speed with twitch and reaction. He is able to face guard receivers and keep the game physical to disrupt timing.

NFL scouts love how aggressive he is when it come to the catch point. Plus, he’s able to make plays and run like a receiver with the ball in his hand after an interception.

The NFL will target Mitchell because he can be trusted to be left on an island to play one-on-one. And, in the instances where he has to come downhill to attack a runner, he can do so.

In a crowd of future NFL Draft picks, Mitchell has to stand out to win the Bednarik. He has done so and then some.

Making History

While it’s not likely to weigh on the minds of voters, Mitchell is in rarified air.

The award has been around since 1995 and only two players from non-Power schools have won: Zaven Collins (Tulsa, 2020) and Tyler Matakevich (Temple, 2015). Mitchell also marks the first time in the award’s young history that a Toledo player has been named a semifinalist.

In the game against Bowling Green, Mitchell ended up breaking the career mark for most pass breakups, breaking Samuel Womack’s mark. Last year, he broke the Toledo single-season record and is well on his way to breaking his own record.

Bednarik Award or not, Mitchell is likely set to be the highest draft pick from Toledo since Dan Williams was selected by the Denver Broncos 11th overall in 1993.