Along with Leon Hart from Spring Valley High School in Columbia, SC, Kyle Mitchum of Erie (Pa.) McDowell High School is another of the remaining blue-chip
offensive linemen that Ohio State is actively pursuing. Like Hart, who will
visit Auburn Jan. 16, Mitchum has one more visit with West Virginia remaining on
the same weekend.
He cancelled his visit to Michigan which was to have taken place this past weekend.
"I had been thinking about it a lot lately and I just didn't feel like I could see myself playing for that school for the next five years. I just didn't think Michigan was right for me," Mitchum said. "I had been feeling that way for a while and they wanted me to go on the visit just to go and I didn't think that was right. Michigan just wasn't the place for me."
West Virginia will be his final visit this weekend. They have been in the picture all along.
"Coach Rodriguez and everybody down at West Virginia has been great," Mitchum said. "The coaching staff has been great and their football program is great. They've been in it for a while and they're still in it. Everyone is about the same right now between West Virginia, Ohio State and Iowa."
Contrary to what Mitchum said that he's been reading lately, distance is not a factor in his decision.
"I know a lot of people are saying that on the (message) boards, but it's not," he said. "So mostly it's just coming down to right after this visit that I'm going to decide."
Iowa is obviously the farthest drive, some 10 hours away.
"They're just great people out there," he said. "At my top three schools, the coaching staffs are unbelievable and I really like that between all three. It's going to be really hard on deciding between these three schools. My decision is going to be real hard because I made great bonds with all of the coaches."
But there of course is the Ferentz-factor with Iowa. His name will continue to come up for vacancies at both the college and professional level.
"I've made a great bond with Coach Ferentz," Mitchum said. "From what he's told me and my coach, he's not leaving. He's already been to the League I think twice. From what he's told me to my face when he was in town and over the phone, I don't think he's going anywhere. But if he does, it doesn't matter, Iowa is a great place. I don't think it would effect my decision if I did want to go there. Everybody is the same right now."
And Iowa has few Erie kids on the roster like Bob Sanders. Could that work to the Hawkeyes' favor?
"All of those kids are Prep (High School) kids or Mercer's kids and I really didn't know them while they were in town playing for Prep. If anything, they were my rivals," he said. "People think in town here or out there (in Iowa) that there's this Erie connection and that connection is not me. If I go there, it will be for myself and not because Erie guys are there and so I have to go there. That's not me at all. I'm from Erie, but those guys are from different schools."
At least he could share a ride with them. Distance is an implied factor.
"It's a little bit of a factor," he said, "but my mom will get there no matter what."
His mom, Darcy, is a single parent and the most important person in Kyle's life.
"My mom means the world to me. She's the best," he said. "She's been through so many things with me, and she's been there by my side growing up. She was one of the first people to ask me if I wanted to play football when I was younger. I can't speak enough about her. She's the only thing I have; my brother just left for school the other week, so it's just me and her now. She's great."
Although Mitchum was almost adamant about all three schools being equal, he spoke glowingly about Ohio State during the entire interview.
"Everything about Ohio State is great," Mitchum said. "Coach Tressel called me the other night and he's just down to earth and an all-around great coach. Coach Daniels is coming in this week, and I've made a great bond with him, and I think the world of him and Coach Tressel. They're just great people in Columbus. Ohio State is just a great place."
Mitchum actually attended the Ohio State-Iowa game in Ohio Stadium this year.
"Just the tradition down in Columbus and the game atmosphere is definitely a big plus," he said. "That game was great and the stadium is just unbelievable there. I really enjoyed myself there and I really like it there."
And he knew a great deal about OSU's recruiting class.
"From what I'm seeing, and how Ginn announced at the game, it definitely seems like Ohio State is bringing in one of the top recruiting classes," Mitchum said. "You still have Xavier Lee and James Bryant looking at Ohio State and Leon Hart and plus myself. There's a bunch of great guys that are still looking at Ohio State and it could make for a big class."
Could playing time be a factor in selecting a particular school for Mitchum?
"I've been reading on the boards that ‘Mitchum wants to play right a away,' but it doesn't matter to me. All I want to do is play, my time will come. If I come in and do good in camp and play, then that's a plus for me. But if I get redshirted, I have no problem with that. That just gives me an extra year to work out with the team, learn my stuff, get used to the system and get stronger and faster and everything. So I have no problem with being redshirted, and if I start or play then that's just a bigger plus."
Producing lineman for the NFL is another area that could potential sway a recruit like Mitchum, be it Iowa who is becoming known for that or Ohio State who has sent a few All-Pro offensive linemen to the NFL over the years as well.
"If you're an NFL guy and you're playing Division I football, then the League is going to find you," Mitchum said. "So it doesn't matter where you go. If you're good enough to play in the League, the League is going to find you."
Although he was versatile enough to excel on either side of the ball at the high school level, Mitchum thinks his future will be somewhere along the offensive line.
"In high school, I played both ways for three years, and I like defense, but in college, I really see myself on the offensive line," he said. "That's me and I enjoy doing it, and my top three schools all want me for the offensive line."
He played some guard in the Army All-Star game but he thinks he's a natural tackle.
"I played right tackle all of years for my high school, even my freshman year," he said. "It doesn't matter to me for college. Once you sign on the dotted line you know they're going to put you anywhere, it doesn't matter. So wherever I can help out I have no problem with whatever they want me to do. I just want to get out there and play again."
For now Mitchum says he really doesn't know where ‘there' is. It's almost that he doesn't want to tell anybody ‘No.'
"It's just really hard. Of all of the schools, I've never been involved with the head coaches as much as these three schools have been involved with me," he said. "It kind of blows me away but it's great. So it's kind of hard because of these bonds that I'm making. It's going to be tough. It's going to be hard telling the other two that I'm going somewhere else."
He's hoping that something jumps out at him after his next visit.
"I don't know. It's really going to be tough," he said. "It's going to be the greatest thing that I'm ever going to do and wherever I end up it's going to be the best thing. I guess it's just going to happen but it's hard to explain."
And yes, Mitchum said he will travel to the school he chooses to inform the head coach directly. Even if it's Iowa!
"I want to do this right. I want to speak to the head coach face-to-face," he said. "I'll do that over the weekend and come back to my school on Monday and have a press release here."
This story first appeared on Bucknuts.com, the Ohio State website on The Insiders network.