“All in the family” now has a new meaning for Spartans’ tight end Matt Sokol. As of yesterday’s National Signing Day, one of his newest teammates is also one of his oldest teammates…in his family. His brother, Mitchell Sokol, has committed to Michigan State as a walk-on in the Class of 2017.
“It was a great feeling,” Mitchell told Spartan Nation. “I’ve always wanted to play college football because my dad did, and both of my brothers did; it’s just an unbelievable feeling – a lot of great feelings and congratulations from everyone.”
Mitchell, the youngest of the three Sokol brothers, is 6’3” and 210 pounds. He hails from St. Mary’s Prepatory School in Orchard Lake, MI, and he says that, as of now, he profiles as an outside linebacker at the college level, but showing the same mentality that has made his brother a favorite in the locker room, he’s willing to go wherever the team needs him.
But as a walk-on, there’s always a fine line between simply being happy to be a part of a program, especially one like Michigan State, and coming in with a chip on your shoulder and with something to prove.
“I’d say both honestly. I’m obviously very, very grateful and blessed to be a part of the Michigan State Football Program – it’s always been a dream for me growing up…it’s an unbelievable feeling. But also, I didn’t want to go there and sit on the bench the full four years. Obviously I’ll do everything I can to get on the field…I just really have to earn my way. It’s a long road ahead, but I’m going to be working really hard to try to get on the field, or special teams, or something – I want to be on the field and keep playing the sport I love,” Mitchell explained.
And that sport has been engrained in him by a lineage of family members that play(ed) the game. His father, Dave Sokol, played football at West Point, his middle brother, Mark, played football at Grand Valley…and then, of course, there’s his oldest brother, Matt, who is currently a junior tight end on the Spartans.
“One of the biggest things I’ve learned from him, directly and indirectly, is you’ve just gotta work for everything that you’re gonna earn,” Mitchell said of Matt. “He’s just the perfect example; he’s the epitome of hard work and what it rewards for you. Ever since I saw him in middle school, he’s been working extremely hard for everything he’s done. He’s a great person and deserves all of it.”
Big brothers have a tendency to impact their siblings. Clearly, Matt has made an indelible impact on his youngest brother, both on and off of the football field. But that didn’t mean we couldn’t try to pry at least one good story about Matt out of Mitchell.
“I don’t want to embarrass him too much, but there’s some that jump right to my head. We were at Thanksgiving dinner one time, and he was just trying to start a conversation with an icebreaker with the whole family. He goes, ‘So guys…Thanksgiving’s been on a Thursday the past couple of years.’ We just kind of laughed that he didn’t know it was a Thanksgiving Thursday every year. That’s one of them for sure,” Mitchell recalled jokingly.
In high school, Mitchell has played all over the field – he was a quarterback as a freshman, a safety in his sophomore year, and would have played slot receiver and safety in his junior year had he not gotten hurt. As a senior, he split his time as an outside linebacker and tight end.
Now that we know that his next stop will be in East Lansing, what can we expect to see between the white lines from Mitchell? With parents that served our nation proudly and a heritage of college football, you never bet against a Sokol.
“Personally, I think a thing I’m very good at is that I love to learn every single position on the field, so I know everything I’m doing,” he explained. “I’m very smart and coachable in football; I just love to know everything I can about my position and what I need to do on every single play, so I know how to react to anything that comes that I wouldn’t be expecting, or am expecting.”
As for some things he needs to work on, along with simply getting stronger in the weight room, Mitchell said, “My speed, for sure. I’ve been told a little bit that I’ve got a slow step sometimes, but I’m going to be working on that a lot with my physical therapist and trainers.”
And those improvements will hopefully come in time. But one thing is for sure…football is in Mitchell Sokol’s blood. The example, originally set by his father, was passed down to all three brothers. Now, Mitchell gets to continue his dream of playing college football, and gets to do so right alongside his older brother…somewhere Archie and Edith Bunker are smiling.