NC State has struggled at times in 2007 with it's offensive line play and as a result, have made the position a huge priority for the class of 2008. The Wolfpack needs players that can step in and contribute immediately and that has the State coaches scouring the junior college ranks for talent. One player that recently landed an offer from the Pack was Snow Junior College OL Andrew Mitchell. Mitchell's journey to land a major division one offer was longer than most and he recently talked with Pack Pride about recruiting and his plans for college football.
Andrew Mitchell almost didn't play football. He sat out his junior season of high school and only suited up as a senior after prodding from his high school coaches. However, his Choctaw, Ok squad suffered that year with just one win and was one of the state's worst 6A programs. Because of that, Mitchell received scant recruiting interest and decided to try junior college in the hopes of gaining more attention.
After a year at Dixie State in St George, Utah, Mitchell, a Mormon, spent the next two years on an LDS mission. Upon returning, he enrolled at Snow Junior College but sat out his first year after suffering a torn ACL.
Over this past summer Mitchell worked out intensely and made major gains in the weight room. He also saw his weight explode. He went from being a 6-5, 240-pound tight end to a 6-5, 300-pound offensive tackle in a matter of months. 6,000 calorie days were the norm and time spent working out with professional trainers began to pay off. Although he had never played on the offensive line before, Mitchell said the transition was no big deal.
"For me, it really wasn't that big of a transition," said Mitchell. "As a tight end you're basically blocking the same personnel as an offensive tackle. You're going up against the defensive end or outside linebacker so it wasn't that big of a deal. The main thing was just getting used to the physicality of every play and I think I've been able to adjust to that."
Mitchell has obviously made the transition work and he's helped Snow to a 7-0 record, a No. 1 ranking in the NJCAA and thoughts of a possible national championship run.
The news got even better for Mitchell personally as a little over a week ago, he landed his first major division one scholarship offer from NC State. Mitchell was thrilled to finally see his hard work pay off.
"That was really nice," said Mitchell. "I felt like it was a long time coming. I've always believed I had the ability but I just needed my body to catch up with my frame. I was expecting this to happen and I'm glad it finally did."
Mitchell added that he was also a little surprised that a school on the other side of the country would even know who he was.
"It was really surprising," he said. "You wouldn't think they'd notice someone way out in Utah but it goes to show that if you've got the ability, they'll find you."
"The surprise was I had only talked with them a couple of weeks, and they offered right when they got the film. I didn't think my first offer would come from an ACC school. I thought it would be from maybe a Big 12 school or one of the colleges out west. I talked to coach Petercuskie on Friday, and he actually mentioned that he watched film on two or three dozen junior college linemen and I was the first they offered. He said the situation right there is they have a couple of guys graduating and they need someone to come in this spring and be an impact guy for them."
Mitchell has since earned offers from Troy and New Mexico and is gaining interest from new schools every week.
"NC State was the first major school to offer," he said. "But I've been talking to Kansas State for months and they were actually involved before anyone else. I've been talking to Oklahoma State for four or five weeks and they've been pretty aggressive. It really seems like I hear from one or two new schools every week."
While NC State is a ways away from his home in Oklahoma, Mitchell said the Pack does offer an opportunity to play and he's been particularly impressed with head coach Tom O'Brien's and staff's track record of developing linemen for the NFL.
"With State, they have instant credibility because they're in the ACC," said Mitchell. "I know they've struggled this year but traditionally they're a good school. Coach Petercuskie flew out here last week and I've had a chance to talk to him. I know what they did with their offensive linemen when they were up at Boston College and after talking to him, I know that going to the NFL is a possibility for me.
"Distance won't hurt them because I've been away from home for several years, and I'm used to being away from home. It would be nice to be able to play close to home where your family and friends can come out and see you play but I want to go somewhere where I can start and have an opportunity to play against the best."
Mitchell has set up an official visit with State for their last game of the season, a Nov 24th matchup with Maryland. That visit date could coincide nicely with Mitchell's tentative timetable for making a decision.
"It seems like most of the players in my position end up making a decision around the first week of December," he said. "I would like to stay open as long as I can to see if any other big offers come but if I can commit early, that would be great just to get it out of the way so it's one less thing to worry about. So, it could be mid-December or a little before when I make a decision."
When asked about which factors will be important in his decision, Mitchell quickly mentioned academics.
"I'd really like to go to a school that will help me reach my academic goals," he said. "I'd like to pursue my graduate degree in maybe pre-law or psychology. Beyond that, I would like to go to a winning team where I would have the chance to come in and contribute right away as a starter."