GREENVILLE, N.C. – Brian Mitchell, who spent 11 seasons as a defensive assistant at Brigham Young and most recently served four years as the cornerbacks coach at Texas Tech, has been appointed defensive coordinator at East Carolina University according to an announcement from head football coach Ruffin McNeill Monday.
Before reuniting with McNeill by accepting his offer to direct the Pirate defense and guide the secondary, Mitchell was also previously announced as Memphis' new cornerbacks coach Jan. 18.
"Brian's a very knowledgeable and experienced coach who has the ability to relate exceptionally well with his players," McNeill said. "He's been able to draw on his experiences as a player at BYU and in the NFL and bring those leadership qualities into the coaching profession."
The Red Raiders were solid at the corners each of the last four seasons under Mitchell. Jamar Wall led the group with 62 tackles and two interceptions in 2008. His biggest pick was a game-saving interception in overtime against Nebraska on Tech's homecoming. Wall was named to the All-Big 12 second team in 2009, and ranked second in the league and tied for second nationally with 17 passes defended.
The Texas Tech 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. The unit didn't skip a beat during his first season in 2006 as Red Raider corners picked four of the team's 11 interceptions. Starters Antonio Huffman and Chris Parker snagged two each as the Texas Tech pass defense ranked first in the Big 12 Conference. Parker, in his first season as a starter in the secondary, blossomed under Mitchell by posting 50 tackles and six pass breakups.
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, 41, 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. BYU played in the Cotton Bowl that year, knocking off Kansas State, 19-15. Additionally, the 1994 (18th) and 2001 (24th) teams finished among the top 25. 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.
He coached several outstanding players on the Cougar defense, including safety Aaron Francisco. Francisco, who helped BYU to a No. 8 national pass defense ranking in 2003, was a two-time First-Team All-Mountain West Conference selection before going on to play for the Arizona Cardinals. Brian Gray and Jenaro Gilford were all-conference performers in 1999 and 2001, respectively.
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.