Redshirt freshman Reggie Mitchell, a projected starter at safety coming out of spring, has been released from his scholarship at Wisconsin and is expected to transfer to Pitt, Jeff Potrykus of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.
Mitchell, a Pittsburgh native, earned high praise from new head coach Gary Andersen throughout spring practices, and took most of the first-team reps next to Dezmen Southward. Unfortunately, his departure leaves a secondary that was already reeling for depth in a bigger bind. The Badgers are replacing three starters off of the 2012 unit in Shelton Johnson, Marcus Cromartie and Devin Smith.
By now, Wisconsin fans may be a little tired of hearing of Pitt's constant meddling in their program. After the 2011 season, offensive coordinator Paul Chryst became the head coach of the Panthers and took tight ends coach Joe Rudolph with him. Rudolph, now the offensive coordinator at Pitt, recruited Mitchell to Madison in 2012. The Panthers also received a transfer from former Wisconsin wide receiver Manasseh Garner before the 2012 season.
With Mitchell gone, junior Michael Trotter may have an initial edge on the starting job. He started three games last season, but didn't do much of note. Junior college transfer Donnell Vercher should give Trotter a stiff a challenge. Vercher is big and hits hard, and would likely be a plus in run defense, though whether he will be effective in coverage remains to be seen.
The good news for the Badgers is that Trotter and Vercher both have experience, giving hope that at least one can be a functional stopgap. Mitchell flashed a lot of potential in the spring, however, making his departure especially disappointing.
Mitchell is also the second Badger to leave the program this week, as senior quarterback Danny O'Brien decided on Monday to transfer elsewhere.