Continuing with Inside NU’s countdown of our top 10 Northwestern football players of 2022, we move on to cornerback Cam Mitchell at No. 4. The junior turned heads with his play on the outside.
Leo Tesler (5):
Cam Mitchell’s 2022 stats:
52 total tackles, 38 solo, nine passes defended, 2.5 tackles-for-loss, one interception, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery, one QB hit
It’s safe to say that the 2022 Northwestern football season did not have too many bright spots. Between an underperforming offense, multiple injuries to key players and some horrific coaching, the ‘Cats failed to meet even the bare minimum of expectations over their 12 games. But in spite of all that, Northwestern’s secondary unit was somewhat effective. And a lot of that is thanks to a strong season from Cam Mitchell.
The junior defensive back followed up on his breakout 2021 season with an even stronger 2022 campaign. The Bolingbrook, Illinois native missed only one game with an injury this season, and made the absolute most of the other 11 games he did play. He set or tied a career-high in every statistical category, doubling his career high in assisted tackles, besting his previous mark of 43 total tackles by nine and recording his first full sack against Miami’s Aveon Smith.
Mitchell burst onto the scene with a strong game in NU’s victory over Nebraska. He registered his only interception of the season: a 27-yard return grabbed from behind the back of Nebraska receiver Cooper Jewett. He also broke up two more passes and racked up six total tackles en route to a 31-28 Northwestern win in Dublin.
After missing a September matchup against Southern Illinois, Mitchell came back stronger than ever with two outstanding performances in Northwestern’s losses against Miami (OH) and Penn State. He sacked Miami quarterback Aveon Smith on second-and-10 for a loss of 22, and recorded a season-high 11 total tackles and a fumble recovery in Happy Valley.
Throughout the rest of the season, Mitchell remained solid. He put up six total tackles in a one-score loss to Maryland, then broke up three passes against a dominant Ohio State offense amid bizarre Evanston weather conditions. Two weeks later, he helped hold star Purdue receiver Charlie Jones to 46 yards, his second-lowest mark all season.
Despite a few subpar performances against Duke and Wisconsin, Mitchell had a very good season for the most part. During a Northwestern football season full of misery and disappointment, he was a consistent bright spot who almost always put up stats despite a lack of production around him.
But of course, we can’t have a story about Northwestern football in 2022 that ends with a positive outlook on the team’s future. Mitchell’s stellar performance this season has likely caught the eyes of NFL scouts, and the star defensive back announced that he would be declaring for the NFL Draft on Dec. 6 via Instagram. Mitchell will join A.J. Hampton and Tyler Haskins Jr., who both announced their intent to transfer, as key losses for the ‘Cats secondary.
Mitchell did not light the college football world on fire. He didn’t garner the attention of the national viewing audience and he wasn’t on top of any leaderboards, but he was a great Wildcat. He gave Northwestern fans someone to cheer for in a season where options were slim, and he was arguably the best player on arguably the team’s most functional unit. What more would you ask of Cam Mitchell?