Going Out A Winner

Heber Springs linebacker Braylon Mitchell was one of four University of Arkansas signees on the winning East team Friday night in the Arkansas High School Coaches Association All-Star game at Reynolds Razorback Stadium.

Like many high school players, Heber Springs standout and University of Arkansas linebacker signee Braylon Mitchell ended his career by walking off the field after a loss.

But he got a chance to go out a winner Friday night at Reynolds Razorback Stadium.

Mitchell (6-2, 220) and three other Razorback signees – Zach Hocker, Byran Jones and Alan Turner - were all on the winning squad as the East downed the West 45-21 in the Arkansas High School All-Star game.

"I had fun and enjoyed every minute of it," Mitchell said. "Originally I ended my high school career with a loss. Tonight I ended my high school career with a W, which I am very proud of and I have got to thank all of those guys out here. Even the Red team, they didn't bow down at all, but we wanted it more and came and got it."

Perhaps Russellville kicker Hocker – awarded the special teams player of the game - had the best night of the signees with 7 touchbacks on his 8 kickoffs.

He also hit a 36-yard field goal, missed a 51-yarder and punted 4 times for a 36.8 average, one held down by dropping two punts inside the 20 yard line.

"Getting to come up here to my dream school and hopefully getting to kick next year for the Hogs is undescribeable," Hocker said. "This was my first time kicking in this stadium and it just feels great to hear the fans yelling and being with the team feels awesome."

Hocker certainly impressed Mitchell.

"I never underestimate a player, but I didn't believe anybody when they said Zach Hocker was kicking field goals out of the stadium," Mitchell said. "I don't think there was one time when he didn't kick the ball in the end zone. He was real deserving of the award he won tonight."

Junction City safety and UA signee Turner (6-0, 185) had six tackles and a pass break-up.

"I feel like I played pretty good," Turner said. "I wish I could have caught that pass in the end zone, but other than that I thought I played pretty good."

Mitchell had 3 tackles as did Junction City's Jones (6-2, 300), who planted the opposing quarterback with one 8-yard sack.

"I felt like I played pretty good, but I couldn't have done it without my line blowing everybody up and me coming in and blowing the hole up and blowing whoever had the ball up," Mitchell said. "I felt like I played good."

Jones, the most heralded of the signees, spent his night fending off blockers.

"I got double-teamed, held chop-blocked and everything," Jones said.

He admits the pick-up and plant of the quarterback felt great.

"I slipped past the offensive lineman and made a big hit," Jones said.

Jones also reiterated that he has dropped his nickname of Big Baby.

"I have buried Big Baby," Jones said. "I became a man."

Mitchell also had a big hit, but it was called a late hit. "I got me a big hit over there, too, but Byran said he wasn't going let me be the only one," Mitchell said. "I feel like his hit was a little more feistier than mine."

The MVP of the game was 5-4 North Little Rock product Tim "Duck" Johnson.

Johnson had two touchdowns on kickoff returns of 100 and 95 and also scoring runs of 42 and 3 yards.

All together he accounted for 310 all-purpose yards.

Mitchell, Jones and Turner are three of 16 UA signees who have already been enrolled in school and working out with teammates while Hocker will check in on Sunday.

"Everything is going real good," Mitchell said. "I have Byran Jones and Alan Turner, Zach Hocker and all the other freshmen all the upperclassman of team embracing me like a brother and it is just like I am at home. Being up here for a month has been a real big pleasure. I am living my dream right now."

Mitchell has already added about 5 pounds and is looking to get bigger.

"My main goal when I got up here was to get bigger and faster and stronger," Mitchell said. "The coaches are looking at putting 20 to 30 more pounds on me so I can get a little bit bigger to play linebacker in the SEC…They are trying to get me up to 235 pounds and playing middle linebacker."


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