Jason Mitchell II, trendsetter

Jason Mitchell is the highest rated recruit for SDSU in the Class of 2024. (Credit: X.com @eazycallj)

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Jason Mitchell laying out to make the tackle. (X.com @UTSCCEO)

Athletes of Samoan descent taller than six feet dominate football up front. This truism steers young Polynesians away from skill positions at all levels of football. 

While some players, like SDSU incoming freshman Jason Mitchell, are changing that stereotype by competing where Samoans are not known to work, even he thought the defensive line was in his future.

“I don’t feel like I play like anybody,” Mitchell told EVT this week. “I don’t know a lot of six-four people that can move like I move, honestly, and I’m just being real with you. It’s hard to move at six-four like I do. I’ve always wanted to play D-end. My mom’s Samoan, so I always thought I was going to get bigger, but I just can’t gain that weight. I was made to be in the skill position.”

Starting at corner, safety, and quarterback in high school is just one way that this young California athlete is blazing his own path. Mitchell is a trendsetter, and his story, which is rooted in family and other deep ties, is beautiful. 

6-foot-4 Cornerback

While it is not unprecedented for someone as tall as Mitchell to play corner in the NFL, it is rare. Every evaluator speaks positively about players’ length, but usually, shorter athletes with elite quickness excel at the position. Backpeddling, changing direction, and short bursts of speed are necessary, making 6-foot the ideal CB height.

On film, Mitchell shows all the necessary skills to play corner at the college level. The explosive corner sat in zones and reacted to receivers entering his area. He also moved his hips well to stay with wideouts in various routes while getting the proper depth on his drop at the snap of the ball.

Jason Mitchell (Credit: X.com @easycallj)

Mitchell says he owes his speed and quickness to his father, whom he was named after. The senior Mitchell, a former WR at USC, is a sports performance trainer. Starting at the age of four, he taught his son the techniques of building his body to run fast on the football field. 

“I feel like I could stop a whole side of the field on a football field, like literally a whole island,” Mitchell said when asked to describe his game. “I’m a show. I make big plays. Big plays, as in big hits, interceptions, just big-time plays that big players do. I’m ready to play at Snapdragon already. I can’t wait for that first home game.”

Reaching his Dreams

Growing up, Mitchell played for the Carson Colts, a national powerhouse youth football team. He started at QB and safety. Fellow Class of 2024 signee Cincere Rhaney competed with him as the starting RB and LB. Like many youth teammates, they dreamed of playing together as they grew older. 

The duo starred at Gardena Serra High School through their junior season. As a 12-year-old, Mitchell laid out a path for his football career, he planned to spend three years at Serra before transferring to St. John Bosco as a senior. He reached that goal in 2023, separating from Rhaney for a season. 

On signing day, the childhood friends turned their early ambitions into reality. They are reuniting with the Aztecs. Mitchell arrives on campus on June 14, and Rhaney will be his roommate. 

Mitchell could have played in any conference in America. He took official visits to Tennessee and Texas A&M, among others. In the end, he said his decision came down to SDSU and the University of Florida.

Cincere Rhaney and Jason Mitchell with the Carson Colts and at Serra’s signing day (Credit: @officialcinn)

When he committed to the Aztecs, he told the staff that Rhaney would flip his commitment from MW rival San Jose State. With Mitchell’s endorsement, Rhaney’s name started buzzing through the Fowler Athletic Center. Mitchell had orchestrated a recruiting coup.

“Me and Cincere, that’s been my dog, my right-hand man, ever since we were like seven years old. …,” Mitchell said. “When I tell you this boy is cold, I’m just giving you a heads-up. Y’all are about to really be woken up in San Diego. … He works hard. I mean, he wants it bad. He’s always wanted it bad since we were really young.” 

“I just feel like we were built different honestly, and I’m excited to get out there because I have some boys down there already at San Diego State that play football. And we’ve known each other for a long time. It’s just nice to be still kind of home.”

Rhaney and Mitchell’s next move was to convince transfer WR Louis Brown to join them on The Mesa. Brown competed against the Colts in the Super Bowl growing up. Now, they will all be competing together in San Diego. 


Walter Tonga Mitchell will be three in the next few months. He lives in Hawai’i and, following the Tongan tradition was named after his maternal grandfather.  The trend for teenage parents is to either be absent from their child’s life or to give up on their dreams to handle their responsibilities. Through the strength of Walter’s extended families on both sides, Mitchell has charted his own course in this area, too. 

Walter recently visited California on a trip that ended last weekend. With Mitchell’s reporting date fast approaching, his son went home to the islands. Like all good fathers, Mitchell finds inspiration from his baby boy.

“Every time I’m doing something that’s making me better, and that gets hard, I just think of my son, and it always gets me through it,” Mitchell said. “He motivates me to be the best version of myself every day, so I wouldn’t change it for the world. That was God. That was a blessing. Absolutely.”

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Four-Star Choosing SDSU

Aztec Nation should also hope that Mitchell’s commitment sets a path for other heralded recruits to spur Power Four schools with bigger NIL offerings in favor of SDSU. At a minimum, his decision brings into focus the program’s recruiting pitch to future athletes. 

NIL has made college football’s landscape unpredictable for everyone. For elite players like Mitchell, who have dedicated their lives to football, it has made one key area murkier: future playing time. 

Mitchell’s personality is a wonderful blend of humility and confidence. He believes in himself and what he can do in the field. He is unafraid of competition. Choosing SDSU was a smart business decision because the Aztecs’ lower NIL profile means he knows the shape of the CB room for the coming years. 

“I just need to get on the field,” Mitchell explained on why he chose the Aztecs. “At Florida, it’s so easy for them to just go call a senior or third-year player to come to play any position. Here, I feel more needed. I feel I’m going to enjoy San Diego more than I would enjoy it anywhere else. I could still call it home and actually mean it. Like I’m still in Cali and still on the big stage.”

Jason Mitchell (Credit: X.com @eazycallj)

In the next few offseasons, SDSU is not going to pay for an established P4 starter at Mitchell’s position, but all of the wealthier schools might. The Aztecs have a long and recent history of producing NFL defensive backs. Now, because of NIL, they can couple that fact with greater predictability on playing time. For goal-oriented athletes, more known factors allow them to plan better. 

“I believe in myself, and I just want an opportunity to play,” Mitchell explained. “I want to touch the field, and I want to go to the NFL. That’s the main goal. It’s always been the main goal. I trust myself. I know that anywhere I go, my face can make something. … to go to the NFL, you need to be on the field. I know the secondary out there in the SEC was getting good amounts (of NIL), but I’m trying to touch the field. My main thing is getting on the field and just getting developed and getting better. I believe in myself. I want to go to the NFL. That’s the main goal.”

Jason Mitchell, trendsetter

CB coach Demetrius Sumler was instrumental in bringing Mitchell to SDSU. Unafraid of the competition for Mitchell’s services, Sumler stayed consistent throughout the talented DB’s recruitment. As much praise as he showered on Sumler, however, Mitchell also admitted that without the change in staff, he wouldn’t have seriously considered the Aztecs. 

Defensive coordinator Eric Schmidt, in particular, has a great relationship with him. When Schmidt was at Washington, he recruited Mitchell. Mitchell loves Schmidt’s creativity and the possibilities SDSU’s DC could design for him.

“I’m not really thinking of entering a room,” Mitchell explained when asked about his mindset as he starts his college career. “I’m entering a football team. … I’m planning to go play anywhere on the field that my coach needs me. We’ve talked about nickel, safety, corner, and if I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing, even receiver. So, I’m really not even thinking about just the rooms. I just know I got to go in and do my stuff, and I’ll be perfectly fine.”

Mitchell’s frame and skillset could allow Schmidt to utilize him in numerous ways. In time, he might develop into a Swiss army knife who can line up all over the field and both sides of the ball. Should that occur, it will be another in a long list of ways that Jason Mitchell II is a trendsetter. 

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