Elijah Mitchell is typically a man of few words.
Unlike some athletes of his generation, he prefers to do his talking on the field.
And as he prepares for hopefully being scooped up during this weekend’s NFL draft, the former Erath High and UL workhorse running back continues to take the simple approach.
“I don’t really think about that much,” Mitchell said when asked when he might be taken and by whom. “I try not to think about it. Once the draft comes around, I’ll see which team I go to.”
One thing the 5-foot-11, 217-pound versatile back does know is he’s going to keep the same approach he’s always taken to football.
“Keep doing what I’ve been doing since high school,” said Mitchell, who was timed at a 4.32 at his pro day. “Just being a student of the game and just being good at what I do.”
One thing is for sure: His college coaches are sold on his worth to a football team.
“There’s no question about Elijah Mitchell,” UL coach Billy Napier said. “His character, what he meant to our team and our organization, just a class act. We’re talking about a young man that truly was a foxhole guy, represented everything a Cajun should be about and represented this community and this university in the right way.
“Certainly his production is well-documented.”
During his career with the Cajuns, Mitchell rushed for 3,267 yards and 41 touchdowns on 527 carries.
“I can’t speak highly enough of Elijah Mitchell,” UL strength coach and associate head coach Mark Hocke said. “A special person, special competitor — extreme work ethic. He’s been like that since we got here in 2018. He’s had success every year we’ve been here.”
Mitchell’s receiving ability is another aspect that could elevate him over some running backs.
“He catches the ball, it’s really natural,” Napier said. “He not only caught the underneath stuff well but tracked the ball down the field very well. I was always impressed with that. Just in general, his ball skills in today’s game at the next level and his ability to be a mismatch player, to make plays after the catch and he also did a really good job as our off returner in the kickoff game.
“A lot of value there and certainly a part of the game at the next level for sure.”
His experience sharing the ball with Trey Ragas, Raymond Calais and Chris Smith, as well as his seasoning as a special-teams performer also make him attractive.
“You get in the league, you’ve got to play special teams,” said Mitchell, whom ESPN draft analysts ranked as the No. 14 running back in this year’s draft. “I want to be a starter, but I know I’m going to have to work my way up. Just being a playmaker and just be a guy to come in and do my job and do it the right way.”
UL running backs coach Jabbar Juluke said Mitchell’s extra motivation and dedication to the game should also be attractive to NFL clubs.
“He has two kids,” Juluke said. “He’s an experienced young man. I really believe he’s in love with football. There’s a difference. I tell a young man, ‘It’s one thing to love football, but to be in love with it is something different. When you’re in love with something, you treat it different. You call your wife. You talk to her on a regular basis. You enamored with her.
“Eli and all of my guys, I think they’re in love with football and they want football to be their career. They want football to take them to places they never dreamed they’d be able to go to. That’s his motivation.”