Orlando Mitjans Jr., who has more than 30 years of experience coaching defensive backs, has been hired as The Citadel’s cornerbacks coach, head coach Brent Thompson announced Friday.
“I am excited that we are able to bring Coach Mitjans to our staff,” Coach Thompson said. “As we went through the process of identifying the best person to come in and help us build on the championship standard we have established, his qualifications immediately stood out to me. He has experience at the FCS level and at a military institution and has had a great deal of success in both environments.”
Coach Mitjans joins The Citadel from Army, where he spent two seasons at West Point coaching the Black Knights’ cornerbacks. His previous FCS coaching spots include Georgia Southern, Eastern Kentucky and Tennessee State, where he coached Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, an All-American and the 16th overall pick in the 2008 NFL Draft, and Anthony Levine.
Rodgers-Cromartie played in Super Bowl XLIII and Super Bowl XLVIII and has twice been selected to the Pro Bowl during the first eight seasons of his NFL career. Levine signed with the Green Bay Packers as an undrafted free agent and is a two-time Super Bowl champion, having won Super Bowl XLV as a member of the Packers and Super Bowl XLVII with the Baltimore Ravens.
“I am thrilled for this opportunity to join Coach Thompson’s staff,” Coach Mitjans said. “The last six years with Coach Jeff Monken at Georgia Southern and Army have been wonderful for me as I have learned from a fantastic leader who is a tremendous builder of men. I have always had a deep respect for the individuals at The Citadel, and I remember how tough our games against them were when I was in the conference. I have seen the amount of dedication it takes to be successful on the field, in the classroom and within the Corps of Cadets at a military institution, and I’m looking forward to bringing my abilities to help continue developing leaders on and off the field.”
Last season, the Black Knights ranked eighth in FBS in first-down defense, and true freshman Brandon Jackson grabbed a team-high three interceptions. During his first season at Army, Mitjans tutored a unit that collected seven interceptions. He coached Josh Jenkins, who was selected to three postseason all-star teams following a tremendous sophomore season that included a team-best four interceptions and eight pass breakups. Jenkins was second on the team with 64 tackles, a total that included 4.0 for loss.
Mitjans also mentored Chris Carnegie who made three interceptions, one of which he returned for a 99-yard touchdown to seal the win against Connecticut at Yankee Stadium. Carnegie was fourth on the team with 54 tackles and registered seven pass breakups.
Prior to arriving at West Point, Mitjans spent four seasons at Georgia Southern where he was charged with coaching the cornerbacks. While he was in Statesboro, the Eagles advanced to three straight national semifinals. In 2010, Mitjans helped Georgia Southern rank second in the SoCon and 11th in FCS in pass defense by allowing an average of 159.9 yards per game through the air.
He helped mold Laron Scott into a two-time All-American and two-time All-Southern Conference selection. Scott was a free agent signee of the New Orleans Saints after concluding his career at Georgia Southern. Mitjans also helped Lavelle Westbrook to second-team all-conference honors and an invitation to the Senior Bowl.
Prior to his tenure at Georgia Southern, Mitjans was the secondary coach at Tennessee State, his second stop with the Tigers. In 2009, Tennessee State led the Ohio Valley Conference in pass defense and was second in total defense. He made his first stop at TSU in 2005, when the Tigers led the conference in total defense and pass defense with Mitjans as the assistant head coach and defensive coordinator.
Mitjans spent one season at Montgomery Bell Academy in Nashville, Tennessee, as co-defensive coordinator and secondary coach after spending spring ball as the defensive coordinator and secondary coach at Florida A&M University.
He served as secondary coach at Eastern Kentucky for the 2006 and 2007 seasons, and there he helped produce an All-American and five all-conference players, including Antwaun Molden, who participated in the Senior Bowl and was invited to the NFL Combine. Molden played for the Houston Texans for three seasons and with the Patriots and Jaguars.
In 2007, the secondary intercepted 24 passes and was the top-ranked pass defense in the conference. Three of the starters in the secondary were named all-conference, led by Derrick Huff, the OVC Defensive Player of the Year and a first-team All-American.
Mitjans spent five seasons at Towson, where he was defensive coordinator in 2004, secondary coach from 2001-03 and running backs coach for the 2000 season. Towson led the league with 21 interceptions in 2003, four of which were returned for touchdowns. Mitjans tutored running back Jason Corle and safety Madieu Williams, both of whom competed in the Senior Bowl and were invited to the NFL Combine.
Mitjans was the secondary coach at Kent State in 1994 and at C.W. Post University in 1996 before moving to Morgan State to coach the secondary in 1997. The Morgan State defense forced 28 takeaways and produced five all-conference honorees in 1998, and Mitjans was promoted to defensive coordinator for the 1999 season.
Mitjans began his coaching career as a student assistant coach at Northeastern, his alma mater, where he helped direct the secondary. He also coached the secondary and special teams at Cheyney University from 1992-94.
Mitjans has worked with three teams through the NFL’s minority internship program. His first opportunity was with the New York Jets in 1994 and he worked with the St. Louis Rams in 1999 and 2000 and the Kansas City Chiefs in 2001. In 2006, he was one of 20 coaches across the country selected to attend the NCAA Expert Coaching Academy to prepare individuals for head coaching roles.
Mitjans began his collegiate career playing safety at Arkansas for head coach Lou Holtz from 1978-80 before transferring to Northeastern and playing two seasons for the Huskies. He earned his bachelor’s degree in leadership from Northeastern in 1982.
Mitjans is married to the former Claire Simmons.