After local stars like Will Gross and Sheldon Dawson had joined up in the Tigers' rebuilding efforts, that muggy Friday in July to Mitchell and Hurd was just as much about realizing a civic responsibility as it was simply offering verbal commitments.
But Larry Porter, the man whose vision they had shared, was fired on Nov. 27, a day after the Tigers' 2-10 season ended. For the next several days, both Hurd's and Mitchell's statuses were in flux.
"All I could think about was, ‘Where am I gonna go? What am I gonna do?' Then the new coach came in, and it took off from there," Mitchell said.
The new coach, Justin Fuente, was hired on Dec. 8 to replace Porter. Although Dawson ultimately defected to Georgia, Fuente was able to convince the remaining local recruits who were committed to the Tigers to stick it out with him.
Hurd and Mitchell both signed with the Tigers on Wednesday in the Wooddale library.
"When coach Fuente came in, he told me a lot of good stuff," said Hurd, a 2-star wide receiver. "I can be able to play early if I work hard enough, and that's all I needed to hear. I stayed committed based on when coach Fuente came in."
Hurd and Mitchell took official visits to Memphis on Jan. 20. There, they noticed qualities in Fuente that solidified their willingness to play for him.
"I see that he's very dedicated," Hurd said. "He works very hard. He's out there whether it's rain, sleet, or snow, actually with the players working out."
At his press conference Wednesday, Fuente raved about Hurd, Mitchell, and the other local-area players he'd signed.
"Obviously, I'm thrilled about their work ethic and their talent level," Fuente said. "But, most importantly, I'm most excited that they're willing to take on this challenge too. They're ready to stay at their hometown school and do something for their city and really make Memphis proud. I'm absolutely fired up about that."
So, too, are Hurd and Mitchell, relieved to have finally made matters with the University of Memphis official.
"Well, we all know the recruiting process can get real hectic," Hurd said. "It's just a lot of stress lifted up off my shoulders, being able to sign and getting my mind focused on playing at a bigger level with a lot of fans and to just dedicate myself to the program."
Added Mitchell: "It's been a long, long road. It feels like this day took a long time to get here. Now that I've signed those papers, I'm ready to ball out now."