Heber Springs ATH Braylon Mitchell has turned his attention from one side of the state to the other.
Previously an Arkansas State commit, Mitchell (6-2, 215, 4.56) verbally committed to the University of Arkansas Wednesday, marking the Razorbacks' seventh commit for the class of 2010 and second from in-state.
"I compared both campuses to each other and I felt when I came away from Arkansas it was a better place for me to reach my goals," said Mitchell, who picked up his offer from the Razorbacks exactly one month before committing.
"It was real tough for me because both schools in Arkansas wanted me to play for them, but I'm also kind of following my heart, too. Ever since I was growing up I wanted to play for the Razorbacks, so I took that into account also."
As a running back, Mitchell rushed for 1,876 yards and 24 touchdowns en route to all-state honors as a junior for Heber Springs. While offense is his first love and what Razorback coaches have talked to him most about playing, Mitchell also plays linebacker and could fill that role in Fayetteville.
"They're recruiting me as an athlete at the moment, but the last time I was up there Coach (Bobby) Petrino was leaning toward me playing running back," Mitchell said. "He said he loves my size and he loves big running backs. He said there was no doubt in his mind that I could play running back."
Mitchell helped lead the Panthers to an 8-5 record last season and run to the quarterfinal of the Class 4A Playoffs.
"I felt we had a really good season," Mitchell said. "We surpassed some expectations. We started off kind of bumpy but as the season went on our coach kept believing in us and we kept believing in ourselves and knew we had a bright future ahead of us.
"We reached our goals by making the playoffs and exceeded that by making the quarterfinals. Obviously we wanted to win the championship but couldn't do that, so we want to do that this year."
Mitchell's high school coach is former Arkansas volunteer-turned-graduate assistant Steve Janski, who coached at the school from 1995-2002. He also served two seasons as an assistant and recruiting coordinator for former Arkansas defensive coordinator John Thompson at East Carolina.
"When I went to Arkansas he drove me up there to the campus," Mitchell said. "The whole drive we talked back-and-forth about which college option would be better. He told me at the end of the day it was my decision but he can give me a bunch of good information about Arkansas.
"He didn't know much about Arkansas State and the advice he gave me about Arkansas was simply, ‘My education is first and foremost and if you go up there Coach Tim Horton could adopt me like a second son and make sure I do good on and off the field.'"
After committing to the Red Wolves as a junior, Mitchell was offered a scholarship by the Razorbacks at the Bobby Petrino Camp in June. Mitchell acknowledged he would likely get more playing time in Jonesboro early in his career, but said it wasn't much of a factor.
"The Arkansas coaches didn't really say much to me about redshirting or how much I'd play," Mitchell said. "It's a possibility I might redshirt at Arkansas, but I knew if I had gone to Arkansas State they'd throw me on the field.
"It'd probably be better for me to redshirt. I mean I like competing and like to play, but it'd probably be best for me to get bigger, faster and stronger before I throw myself into the college game – something I don't know much about yet. I'd rather get used to it."
Mitchell to Arkansas
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