Hometown Report

Ex-Burbank star Terrance Mitchell saves Chiefs’ victory

deulitt@kcstar.com

Terrance Mitchell scored one for career perseverance Thursday night in Kansas City, doing so in the national spotlight at frigid Arrowhead Stadium.

After bouncing around the NFL, making five stops at various landing spots on practice squads and active rosters, Mitchell may have finally found a permanent job and football home.

The cornerback from Burbank High School and the University of Oregon was the unlikely defensive hero for the Chiefs, standing tall while targeted by the Raiders. After all, it was Mitchell’s second game back since being plucked from the practice squad.

On fourth down from the Chiefs’ 19 and desperate for a touchdown with 2:01 to play, Raiders quarterback Derek Carr threw a pass along the left sideline intended for wide receiver Seth Roberts with Mitchell in single coverage. The 5-foot-11 cornerback soared high to tip the ball away, and the Chiefs chewed up the rest of the clock en route to a 21-13 win.

The victory moved the Chiefs into a first-place tie in the AFC West with the Raiders. But Kansas City holds the tiebreaker after sweeping the season series.

All of this from the third-to-last player selected in the 2014 NFL draft by the Dallas Cowboys. Mitchell spent time with the Cowboys, Bears, Cowboys again, Texans and Chiefs. He played two games for Kansas City earlier in the season but was cut last month and then brought back to the practice squad. Such is life in the NFL for many players.

Watching Thursday’s game at home was James Pale. The longtime English teacher and assistant football coach at Burbank shouted encouragement to Mitchell via wide-screen TV, leaping out of his couch and alarming the family dog.

“It was really neat seeing our guy do well on the big stage,” Pale said. “He was very, very businesslike in high school. Kept his head down and worked extremely hard. One of the most soft-spoken kids we have ever had, but his legacy is his work ethic. He was always that kid staying after, doing extras.”

Also a good student, Mitchell graduated from Burbank early to enroll at Oregon and jump-start his Ducks career. He started at cornerback for three years and entered the NFL draft following his junior season.

It was really neat seeing our guy do well on the big stage. He was very, very businesslike in high school. Kept his head down and worked extremely hard. One of the most soft-spoken kids we have ever had, but his legacy is his work ethic. He was always that kid staying after, doing extras.

James Pale, a longtime English teacher and assistant football coach at Burbank, on Terrance Mitchell

But nagging injuries slowed Mitchell in the NFL combine, where he clocked a 4.63-second 40-yard dash. That’s a great effort for tight ends but not so much for cornerbacks assigned to cover speedy receivers.

Mitchell slipped to the seventh and final round to Dallas. He has said that all he really wanted was an opportunity. On Thursday, he got it.

Browning and Bosco – Washington Huskies quarterback Jake Browning was flattered to be in the Heisman Trophy conversation, but he wasn’t disappointed to learn he would not fly to New York to attend Saturday’s award ceremony at the Downtown Athletic Club as a finalist.

The former Folsom High star was in the running to be the Sacramento area’s first Heisman finalist since BYU quarterback Robbie Bosco from Roseville High twice finished third in the balloting (1984 and ’85).

Browning has tossed a Huskies-record 42 touchdown passes this season, one shy of the Pacific-12 Conference season mark set last year by Cal’s Jared Goff. Browning, only a sophomore, has a bigger goal in mind: toppling top-ranked and defending champion Alabama on Dec. 31 in the College Football Playoff national semifinal in the Georgia Dome.

Browning wasn’t at his best last week in a 41-10 victory over Colorado in the Pac-12 championship game at Levi’s Stadium. He completed 9 of 24 passes for a career-low 118 yards, saying later, “I don’t think I played like a Heisman contender, by any means.”

He said the prospect of attending the Heisman presentation was exciting.

Obviously, you want to go, but I’m much happier we won the Pac-12 championship. It’s a team sport. If you’re worried about individual stuff, you shouldn’t play football.

Washington quarterback Jake Browning, from Folsom High School, on the Heisman Trophy ceremony in New York

“Obviously, you want to go, but I’m much happier we won the Pac-12 championship,” Browning said. “It’s a team sport. If you’re worried about individual stuff, you shouldn’t play football.”

Quarterback Jake Browning will lead Washington against defending national champion Alabama, who has Jonah Williams starting at right tackle, in the Peach Bowl in a College Football Playoff semifinal on Dec. 31.

Joe Davidson: 916-321-1280, @SacBee_JoeD

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