|School:||Erie, Pa. (McDowell HS)|
To say the current class of Seniors-to-be could be the best group that Pennsylvania has produced in a long while does not appear to be a stretch at this point. With a handful of good quarterbacks, linebackers, and lineman, the state will be a frequent stop off for college coaches during the May Evaluation period.
One player who has already made quite a name for himself before the evaluation period is Erie McDowell's Kyle Mitchum. Although he only ranked #21 in the Lion's Lounge Top 25 Jrs in Pennsylvania, he is sure to rise and in any other year he may have been Top 10 right off the bat. LionNews had the opportunity speak with McDowell HS Head Coach Jon Cacchione (pronounced Kuh-SHONE) about his star lineman.
Last season for McDowell, Kyle recorded 31 solo tackles, 27 assists, and 9 sacks on defense [note - no offensive line stats were kept], propelling him into the spotlight, which garnered him such honors as 2nd team All-State offensive line (only underclassman to be named at that position), 1st Team All-Erie offense and defense, and 1st Team All-Allegheny Conference. College coaches from across the east coast and midwest also took notice. Currently, Kyle has offers from Penn State, Pittsburgh (first to offer), Maryland, Michigan State, Iowa, and West Virginia, with schools like Ohio State, Illinois, Virginia, and Colorado soon to follow.
According to Coach Cacchione, one of the attributes that makes Kyle so appealing to college coaches has to be his versatility on the line.
"He's an offensive right tackle and on the defensive line we generally put him where their weakest guy is because he's pretty dominate. Last year, he was mostly at [defensive] tackle but we move him all over. He's our best pash rusher. He's our best run defender, so we put him where we think we need him the most."
Cacchione admitted that most schools have discussed playing Kyle on both the offensive and defensive lines, although in his experience, he sees him as a offensive guard in college. Why does he feel Kyle is better suited for guard over tackle?
"Right now because of his weight, but again that is my personal opinion. No one (colleges) has been committal in regards to what position on either side of the ball. Basically he's only been told offensive line or defensive line," stated Cacchione. "We make a highlight tape of all our potential scholarship athletes. We make the highlights of their junior year and then put the two best games at the end of it. Kyle's highlight tape, in the words of these college coaches, is the best high school lineman highlight tape they've seen."
Kyle and his coaches have already sat down and discussed a well planned out travel itinerary to college campuses for this spring.
"We were down at Penn State last weekend for two days, Friday and Saturday. He also was at West Virginia. He's been to Pitt twice--once during the winter for a Junior Day where he saw a basketball game and then he went back down for spring practice. We're going to Ohio State on April 23rd. We're going to Michigan State in June, along with Iowa. He's going to Maryland sometime in May. He'll be at the Nike Camp back at Penn State."
Cacchione continued, "Right now that's all he's got lined up for the unofficial visits. We're trying to get him on as many campuses as possible before he has to commit to where his official visits will be."
Because Kyle will be on a whirlwind tour of campuses, what is the likelihood that he will attend any summer camps outside of Joe Butler's Metro Index with his teammates?
"A lot of our kids go to those camps because you can get offers at their summer camps, but in his situation he's got the offers. He was really interested in having a few of the offers that he already has. I think the other offer he would like to get is Ohio State, not to say that he would go there if they offered. I just think that Ohio State and Michigan were two others that he was also hoping to get.
"He's kind of enthralled by [the Big Ten]. And this is a real big Penn State area, so obviously, I'd be lying to you if I told you they didn't carry a little more weight than the others. There's a lot of Penn State around here. A lot of Pitt lately too, but I just don't see him doing that because of the urban setting. He's more into the campus type situation.
"Ohio State asked him to come down (April 23rd) on a non-junior day. I've been around for a while and I know that kind of means that they want to give some special attention.
"There's sort of an Erie connection with Iowa. They have three Erie kids (Ed Hinkel, Demond Sanders, and Jovon Johnson) on their roster because their offensive coordinator is the former head coach at Allegheny College which is twenty minutes away. He recruits our area and our kids know him pretty well."
With Penn State seemingly in a good position for Kyle, Tom Bradley, the Nittany Lion's defensive coordinator and coach in charge of recruiting western Pennsylvania, keeps in regular touch with Mitchum. In fact, like Chad Henne, Dan Connor, and Greg Harrison before him, the Nittany Lions wanted to have Kyle for a one-on-one unofficial visit. They asked Coach Cacchione and him to come down a day early for the junior day so that they could focus their attention on him.
"They were pretty good to him, they treated him royally. Friday when we got there, Kyle was able to sit in position meetings. After the meetings we ate dinner with the team in the team dining room," said Coach Cacchione. "After that, he got a tour of the entire town, just him and one of the coaches. On Saturday he did all of the other things that the other kids did. But Friday he had all that individual attention because he was there ahead of time."