Judge Doesn’t Believe Alabama’s Tony Mitchell Was In Wrong Place At Wrong Time, But Still Gives Minimal Sentence

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Well, here’s something a college “student-athlete” cannot transfer out of on a dime.

Highly recruited Alabama freshman defensive back Tony Mitchell on Wednesday received three years of probation, 100 hours of community service, and paid a $1,560 fine for a drug charge last March. If he does enter the NCAA Transfer Portal to escape to another school, his sentencing will follow him.

Police in Florida arrested Mitchell, one of the top safeties in the country in 2022 out of Thompson High in Alabaster, Ala., and his friend Christophere Lewis during spring break on March 15. They were arrested for felony possession of 266 grams of marijuana with intent to sell as police found weighing scales in the car.

Tony Mitchell Reached Speed Of 141 MPH

Police originally pulled Mitchell over for going 78 mph in a 55 mph zone on a rural highway near Panama City, Florida. But he made a break for it in his Dodge Challenger and reached 141 mph, according to police. When finally stopped and apprehended, police said Mitchell seemed confused.

A maximum sentence for Mitchell could have been five years. But this was his first offense, and it was a doozy. And it is amazing he didn’t draw a driving under the influence charge.

Video of Mitchell’s arrest should not have helped his case.

So, the question is, what will last longer: his probation or his time at Alabama?

And this situation begs the question: Should colleges bolster their Name, Image & Likeness payouts and budgets to include fines for breaking the law along with the very best of defense attorneys?

Come to our school, and you will get the very best legal representation, no matter the crime – allegedly! We guarantee little or no jail time for certain offenses.

I can see the billboards now: “Balance that scale of justice in your favor at the University of _____.”

After all, coaches and personnel directors have frequently said, “This team’s too nice. We need a couple of bad guys.”

Alabama Lawyers Busy Of Late

Apparently, Alabama has some pretty good defense lawyers at its disposal, or at least creative ones. Mary Turner of Tuscaloosa, for example, is trying to sell a self-defense argument for her client, Alabama basketball player Darius Miles.

Nevermind that Miles remained on the scene of a dangerous situation on the Alabama Strip last Jan. 15. Then he called a friend – Alabama star basketball player Brandon Miller – to bring him his gun that he left in his car. Miller transported the soon-to-be murder weapon. Miles retrieved it and gave it to childhood buddy Michael Lynn Davis, who shot Jamea Jonae Harris to death, according to police. Miles and Davis remain in jail on capital murder charges.

Self-defense or initiation of violence? We may find out in an upcoming trial if a better “self-defense” for Miles may have been just leaving.

A different judge denied Turner’s request for bail for Miles for a second time on Wednesday. So, that’s at least two people and me who do not completely buy her self-defense reach.

Mitchell’s attorney, meanwhile, is Waylon Graham of Panama City, Florida, and he is feeling good today. He successfully got his client out of jail and kept him out of jail with Wednesday’s sentencing by Holmes County Circuit judge Russell Roberts. It could have been a lot worse for Mitchell.

“Tony is very, very sorrowful for what happened,” Graham told Al.com recently.

So, maybe Graham will be working for the University of Alabama and its arrested athletes now as much or more than for the University of Florida or Florida State.

Nick Saban Tougher On Tony Mitchell Than Judge

At the moment, Alabama coach Nick Saban’s sentencing of Mitchell seems a lot stronger than the judge’s.

Just four days after Mitchell’s arrest, Saban had researched enough, which he does when his players get arrested. And the Crimson Tide coach suspended Mitchell indefinitely.

“Everybody’s got an opportunity to make choices and decisions,” Saban said. “There’s no such thing as being in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

Hmm. Alabama basketball coach Nate Oats should have had such a mindset with regard to Brandon Miller, who has not been arrested for furnishing the murder weapon on Jan. 15. But he definitely made some bad decisions and should have been suspended.

Saban did not mention how “very sorrowful” Mitchell may have been.

Tony Mitchell Is A Key Player For Alabama

Saban may have been sorry Mitchell missed all of spring practice on suspension, because he needed him. But he suspended him anyway. Mitchell is one of his most talented defensive backs. And Saban just lost three safeties to the 2023 NFL Draft. Brian Branch went in the second round, Jordan Battle in the third and DeMarcco Hellams in the seventh.

Cornerback Eli Ricks, once one of the top defensive back prospects in America like Mitchell, signed as a free agent after his own drug-driving arrest and subsequent continued underachievement after transferring from LSU.

And Mitchell’s discipline is not over with Saban and Alabama. Saban has not lifted the suspension yet. And Mitchell is expected to have to go through more of Alabama’s internal discipline, including sessions with the school’s Recovery and Intervention Services.

What Alabama is trying to do with and for Mitchell may serve him better in the long run than the lighter-side sentence he received.

That is, unless he just transfers out like so many short-termers taking advantage of a silly, immediate gratification NCAA Transfer Portal system that too often rewards quitters.

And if Mitchell does consider a transfer, do not be surprised if he checks on his prospective school’s team of lawyers … just in case.

Written by Glenn Guilbeau

Guilbeau joined OutKick as an SEC columnist in September of 2021 after covering LSU and the Saints for 17 years at USA TODAY Louisiana. He has been a national columnist/feature writer since the summer of 2022, covering college football, basketball and baseball with some NFL, NBA, MLB, TV and Movies and general assignment, including hot dog taste tests.

A New Orleans native and Mizzou graduate, he has consistently won Associated Press Sports Editors (APSE) and Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) awards since covering Alabama and Auburn at the Mobile Press-Register (1993-98) and LSU and the Saints at the Baton Rouge Advocate (1998-2004). In 2021, Guilbeau won an FWAA 1st for a game feature, placed in APSE Beat Writing, Breaking News and Explanatory, and won Beat Writer of the Year from the Louisiana Sports Writers Association (LSWA). He won an FWAA columnist 1st in 2017 and was FWAA's top overall winner in 2016 with 1st in game story, 2nd in columns, and features honorable mention.

Guilbeau completed a book in 2022 about LSU's five-time national champion coach - "Everything Matters In Baseball: The Skip Bertman Story" - that is available at www.acadianhouse.com, Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble outlets. He lives in Baton Rouge with his wife, the former Michelle Millhollon of Thibodaux who previously covered politics for the Baton Rouge Advocate and is a communications director.

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