April 21, 2009

Florida ATH spends weekend at Ole Miss

Eric Mitchell knew he wanted to spend last weekend looking at potential college homes.

He just wasn't sure where.

That changed last Wednesday when Mitchell picked up his first scholarship offer. Suddenly, the 5-foot-11, 170-pound cornerback/athlete from Cape Coral (Mariner), Fla., had a specific destination in mind.

Mitchell spent almost 48 hours in Oxford, Miss., getting to know the program and staff that extended a scholarship offer last week. Mitchell arrived in Oxford Friday, attended Ole Miss' practice that afternoon and then witnessed Saturday's Grove Bowl at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium before making the 14-hour trek back to the Fort Myers area on Sunday.

"It was good. We kind of got lost a little bit, but we found our way back," Mitchell said. "I love the football team. I love the coaches. They're not all about football."

Mitchell said the Ole Miss offer "was shocking. I didn't think I would come fast. I was planning on just going to see some schools, but as soon as I got the offer, I said, 'Coach, I've got to go see it.'"

Mitchell made the trip to Oxford with a pair of Mariner coaches, including head coach Chad O'Brien.

"When I left, I said I'm an Ole Miss fan," O'Brien said. "I'll root for them now. I was really impressed. They have a top-notch thing going."

Mitchell, who plays running back, wide receiver and cornerback at the high school level, agreed.

"On the way home, that's all I talked about -- Ole Miss," Mitchell said. "Don't get me wrong, the football team is nice, and those are some big boys who can play, but academic-wise, that's going to be hard to beat. I really liked that."

Mitchell said there was no pressure from Ole Miss to make a commitment. Instead, the Rebels talked to him about "academics, family and tradition." Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt, Mitchell said, told him "they're not sure if they're going to put me on offense or defense. I watched their corners, and I'm pretty sure I could handle it. …It doesn't matter. Wherever they want to put me, I'll play, as long as I get on that field."

O'Brien said he believes the Rebels are recruiting Mitchell as a cornerback, adding that Ole Miss recruiting coordinator/cornerbacks coach Chris Vaughn "really liked him."

Mitchell is also drawing serious interest from South Florida, Central Florida, Western Kentucky, West Virginia, Florida International, Florida Atlantic and Connecticut. Tennessee has indicated plans to come to Cape Coral to watch Mitchell in spring practices.

"I'm not sure who else is recruiting me," Mitchell said. "I just know Ole Miss is recruiting me. I don't really care where I go, as long as I can go someplace where I can play and succeed academically."

Mitchell said he plans to attend Ole Miss' invitation-only camp in late July.

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