Interview with Nick Mitchell
By Reid Althage
By Reid Althage
LAFM: How many years have you been in coaching?
I have been coaching for 14 years.
LAFM: What is the name of the first school you coached at?
I started at East St. John. My next couple schools were L. B. Landry, Booker T. Washington, East Ascension, and now I am here at Southern Laboratory.
LAFM: What made you get into coaching? Who or what influenced you the most?
My dad (Wilfred Mitchell Jr.) was a recreational coach and my grandfather (Wilfred Mitchell) was a recreational coach. They both started their own recreational organization to provide opportunities for the young kids in the community to play sports. They were probably the people who inspired me the most. Watching those two guys develop relationship with the kids and helping the community. They nurtured the kids, fed them, took care of them, clothed them, picked them up, brought them to practice, brought them home, and made them go to study hall. Just the things that coaches do beyond the ordinary to touch kids lives.
LAFM: Did you go to college? What did you major in?
I graduated from Southern with my bachelors degree, and graduated from Xavier with my masters degree. I played baseball at Southern University. I was First Base.
LAFM: Who are some of the best players you haveve ever coached?
QB Ryan Perriloux- I actually coached Ryan going into my 3rd year at East St. John. My dad coached Ryan Perriloux when he was playing recreational football, so I also coached him when he was about 11.
WR Roydell Williams played at Tulane. He went on to play for the Tennessee Titans and the Washington Redskins. Roydell was the the only WR I have ever coached that I never saw run a route at half speed. He ran every single route as hard as he possibly could. He acted like it was the last route he was ever going to run.
Lance Louis- He was a TE at L. B. Landry who also played DE. He played at San Diego State. I think he was last with the Dolphin’s but played with the Chicago bears for several years. He was an All-American type kid coming out of high school. He was probably 6-4, 245-250. He was like a 4.5 kid coming out of high school, a very special athlete and gifted kid.
LAFM: Would you like to see anything changed in Louisiana High School football?
Not really, I think we have something pretty special in Louisiana with the amount of athletes we have. The state produces so many top recruits every year. Their is not really anything that I would change. I know the whole non-select, select change has become an issue. I kind of liked it the way it was. It gave the schools an opportunity to work to get where they need to be from a program standpoint. Still, I really would not change anything about it. I really like everything their is about Louisiana High School Football.
LAFM: Do you think the brand of Louisiana football is different than anywhere else?
I really do. I have spoken to different coaches around the south and even further along in the country. I think our brand of football is 2nd to none. The amount of players that the state puts into DI, DII, FCS, and FBS every year kind of speaks for itself. You can also see it in the amount of players in the NFL that are from Louisiana. I think that is one thing that makes us unique. We are not a big state like California or Florida. What makes us special is the hunger and drive that our kids have for wanting to be successful. Our kids want to play at the highest level of football which is the NFL.
LAFM: Do you feel like the offense/defensive philosophies differ between North and South Louisiana?
Absolutely. I do believe the philosophies are different. I spoke to a coach who had some roots in North Louisiana after losing to a team from North Louisiana in the playoffs. I sat down and just started to pick his mind about things. just learning about the culture, and differences in coaching staffs it is different. North Louisiana is going to run the football no matter what. South Louisiana has different athletes from a standpoint of philosophy, not genetics. From a philosophy standpoint, our athletes give our coaches more options to spread the ball out. I find kids from North Louisiana (especially on the O-Line) tend to be bigger than kids in South Louisiana. That is another reason many coaches go with a spread philosophy in the south.
LAFM: Who is your favorite NFL or college player of all time and why?
I would probably say Steve McNair. I got a chance to actually see him in person. He played in at Alcorn while I was at Southern. I got to see the type of athlete that he was in college, and how he was head and shoulders above every school he competed against. Some of the things he did were pretty mind blowing. He was able to run around defneders, run over Line Backers, run over Defensive Linemen, and then throw the ball 60-70 yards down the field. He was just a freak of nature. I really enjoyed the couple of times I got to watch him play. Even when we were in school, I think their was a consensus by those are age that McNair was going to be an NFL Quarterback. He did become a NFL QB and had a great career.
LAFM: Who is your favorite college or pro football coach and why?
I really like Chip Kelly. I think he was very innovative in his approach to not only offensive football but the game in general. He was able to change the mindset of a lot of coaches not only in his area of the country, but also around the entire country. He along with Rich Rodriguez not getting into a huddle was a major paradigm shift in college football. To this day I do not think it will change. I know their was some rules that were trying to tinker with the sport as far as tempo goes. It was not only innovative but an understandable concept of offense that goes as fast as you can possibly take it. I really like what Chip Kelly did at Oregon bringing this up tempo offense and being extremely innovative.
LAFM: What makes Southern Lab High School a great school and a great football program?
From a coaching standpoint, Southern Lab is not like any other school that I have been too here in South Louisiana. A few things stand out. Number one: Their is a legacy and tradition of winning and championships. That legacy and tradition permeates every part of the school and the culture. It makes you want to get up in the morning and be your best which is something everybody here feels. It is a very small tight-nit family community. The teachers, students, and parents all have a relationship. Their is just a love that kind of permeates the entire school. It is kind of a Little House On the Prairie type of deal. It is so enjoyable, simply because you know what you are going to get every day. You know you are going to get a single minded focus from all of the kids, all the parents, all the administrators, and all of the coaches. The only thing we want to do is win everything in and outside the classroom.
From a program standpoint, what we try to do is take that same concept into each and every program, specifically football. Southern Laboratory has 108 state championships (all sports). Their is no other school in Louisiana that can say they have 108 State Championships in their athletic program. You understand that whenever you get up in the morning you are a part of that legacy and tradition. You understand that you have to hold that torch up high for everybody to see. Everything you do has to be based on and driven by the will to win, to be the next man up, the next woman up, to bring that next banner home. That is what drives us to be the best that we can be.