‘Culture wins:’ ASU LB Juwan Mitchell dismissed from team after Saturday incident

Aug 7, 2023, 1:52 PM | Updated: 3:42 pm

Juwan Mitchell #10 of the Tennessee Volunteers in action against the LSU Tigers during a game at Ti...

Juwan Mitchell #10 of the Tennessee Volunteers in action against the LSU Tigers during a game at Tiger Stadium on October 08, 2022 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

(Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

TEMPE — The Arizona State Sun Devils are just 24 days away from the first official game of the Kenny Dillingham era in the Valley and a tone has been set.

Dillingham has established a culture within his team of players that want to play for ASU, are good people and are focused on winning football games.

The first-year head coach has made an emphasis of this in recruiting pitches with the current state of Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) as well as keeping some high-profile names in the program like wideout Elijhah Badger and tight end Jalin Conyers.

One of the new names that was projected to see major playing time was Texas and Tennessee transfer linebacker Juwan Mitchell.

He was Texas’ leading tackler in 2020 with 62 total tackles, 4.5 for loss and one fumble recovery and was also a staple in Tennessee’s loaded defense in the SEC.

But Mitchell reportedly got into an incident during Saturday’s Sun Devil practice that saw his dismissal from the team the same day.

“Juwan Mitchell is no longer with the team,” Dillingham said Monday. “Culture wins. It is very very simple, culture wins. You are either going to practice how we practice, live how we live, be a good person, compete, say yes sir and no sir, open doors for people. Be genuinely a good person or do things right, or you are not.

“It is really not hard just to be a good person. The football stuff is great, there are a lot of really good football players. I want good people in this program to build a culture that we can be proud of.”

In addition, cornerback Isaiah Johnson was also dismissed.

A few players, such as Conyers and wide receiver Andre Johnson, have been around for multiple coaching staffs and said the tone has been much different this go around.

The players all separately mentioned that each player, regardless of status, will be held to the same standard as everyone else, the very first thing coach Dillingham brought up in team meetings.

“He (Dillingham) does not put up with B.S. If something happens he will kick guys off the team,” Conyers said.

“He does not care if you are the best player or worst player. It is bigger than on-the-field stuff. There is culture on the field, but off the field and in the locker room as well.”

Throughout fall camp, Dillingham has not wavered in his desire for good people and smart players, something that will result in wins.

The football culture was in effect during day one of Dillingham’s appointment, but the gradual change of moving to a different conference after 100-plus years is still setting in.

Conyers mentioned how the team’s togetherness will result in a much better product on the field and how he hopes they can compete for the last ever Pac-12 championship game, something that still feels surreal.

With this now being the last season in the Pac-12 for Arizona State and eight other conference foes, many players across the team said that this season means just that much more to honor the year’s of Sun Devil excellence within the conference.

“The culture is on the up-and-up right now,” Johnson said.

“We are trying to bring together the Sun Devil brotherhood that was around when we were winning Rose Bowls. The team culture is still learning how to be better football players and be better men.”

The Big 12 experience

This culture has paid off not only with this year’s team but the two future recruiting classes as well.

Dillingham is in the process of filling a 2024 recruiting class that was heavily depleted when he took over the reigns.

Just days after announcing a move to the Big 12, the 2025 class has jumped out to an even hotter start.

With four-star QB Michael “Butter” Tollefson already committed, ASU added two three-star Texas recruits in the heart of Big 12 country over the weekend.

The Sun Devils now have the No. 8 recruiting class in the country for 2025, according to Rivals. Do not scratch your glasses, you read that correctly.

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