Mike Mitchell is enjoying a homecoming this weekend at the Champion Gridiron Kings 7-on-7 Tournament at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports.
And the Plano (Texas) Prestonwood Christian linebacker is contemplating making his trip even more memorable with the possible announcement of his college plans Sunday during the final day of the event.
Mitchell, a four-star prospect who is ranked as one of the top 50 players in the nation by Rivals.com, played varsity football as a freshman at Winter Park before moving to Texas in 2010.
Now he is thinking of committing to either Ohio State, Florida State or Texas A&M near his old stomping grounds.
“That’d be cool to make the decision here because all of my family is going to be out here on Sunday,” Mitchell said. “…All my family lives here and all my friends. So I thought that’d be a really cool place if I was to make a decision.”
As of Saturday evening, Mitchell was not 100 percent sure if he was indeed going to pick a school. If he does make a decision Sunday, it doesn't look like FSU is a likely choice.
“I still actually really want to go [visit] Florida State because I haven’t really talked to the coaches that much there,” Mitchell said. “So if I was to pick Florida State, I’d probably just hold the decision.”
Although Mitchell hasn’t visited Ohio State yet, he said he felt comfortable enough with the program, coaching staff and players to commit to the Buckeyes.
Any school that does land Mitchell, this year's Nike SPARQ national champion, will get one of the nation’s premier talents and most athletic players.
As a junior, Mitchell (6-4, 215) had 151 tackles, 11 sacks and 32 tackles for loss, impressive numbers for a player used to such accomplishments. His SPARQ score of 154.47 at The Opening in Beaverton, Ore., earlier this month stands as the national record for the four-event, agility-testing competition. Mitchell recorded an electronically-timed 4.39-second 40-yard dash and 4.00-second 5-10-5 shuttle run. He also had a 40.6-inch vertical jump and threw the 6.6-pound power ball 45 feet.
“There was a lot of work put in before that,” Mitchell said. “Me and my dad (former Atlanta Falcons linebacker Ken Mitchell) were outside training every day on the track, football field and weight room. It was a lot of tough work but it was worth it.”
Prior to his coming out party at The Opening, Mitchell had participated in just one combine during his high school career.
Mitchell’s success has to sting a little for his former teammates and coaches at Winter Park.
Through the past couple seasons, the Wildcats have relied heavily on transfers. The past two years, Winter Park’s offense was led by USF wide receiver Dvario Montgomery, who came to Central Florida from Louisiana before his sophomore season.
This year, Winter Park’s top two seniors are quarterback Asiantii Woulard, a USF commit who transfered from Orlando Freedom a year ago, and defensive back Blake McClain, a Kentucky pledged who came over from Oviedo after his freshman season.
So in a bit of an ironic twist, potentially the best player for Winter Park this season, turns out to be a player who, himself, transferred, albeit away from the school.
He’s Winter Park's version of the one who got away.
“Yeah, they were sad to see me leave,” Mitchell said.
Mitchell still has a little Florida in him. He will go to the beach with Winter Park rising senior running backs Ian Banks-Tillman and Edmund Jacobs on Sunday after Gridiron Kings, for which the championship game starts at noon.
What makes Mitchell’s departure hurt all the more for the Wildcats is the loss of his younger siblings who would have also been zoned for Winter Park.
Mitchell has five brothers and three sisters, all of their names begin with ‘M’ and most are superior athletes. Mickey Mitchell (6-8, 205) is considered one of the nation’s top 2015 basketball prospects and could very well be the next Austin Rivers (former Winter Park star and current NBA rookie).
“He’s a better quarterback than point guard,” said Ken Mitchell, who expects rising freshman McKinley Mitchell to also develop into a college football prospect.
In all, Ken Mitchell claims that his clan has won nine state titles and has collected more than 1,200 athletic trophies throughout the years.
“They take after Mom,” Mitchell said with a laugh. “They honestly have her genes ... they have the looks from her, the brains from her and the athleticism from her. Everything else they got from me.”
Ken Mitchell does not like to take credit for his children’s success, but he does relish it. Watching on as Mike Mitchell makes one stop after another at Disney, Ken proudly counts every ‘tackle’ in the one-hand-touch format of the Gridiron Kings and cheers on the kid who he said was born to play linebacker.
Ken Mitchell said his son is so focused on football that he doesn’t even have a driver’s license yet: “He just wants to play ball.”
Unlike his father, Mike Mitchell is a man of few words. He seems to find relief in the fact that his recruiting process will be slowing down soon and that he can get back on the football field to let his pads do the talking.
“I think I’ve talked it over a lot and have thought it over,” Mitchell said. “It might be time to make the decision.”
Brendan Sonnone is the Sentinel's recruiting correspondent and can be reached at email@example.com. Follow Brendan on Twitter at @BSonnone or Facebook at Brendan Sonnone or at Orlando Sentinel Recruiting.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times