The graduate transfer decision was simple. Damon Mitchell is headed home and he has something to prove.
After New Jersey's No. 2 quarterback in the class of 2013 did not get his ideal on-field experience with Arkansas, Mitchell is back in the Garden State with a hefty chip on his shoulder.
“They want me to do it all,” Mitchell said. “Listen, when you sit on the bench for three years after accounting for 43 touchdowns in a single season as a senior in high school and almost 3,000 yards total in rushing and passing, you would be pretty excited to get the opportunity to get the rock in any way and actually show the country what you can do.”
Rutgers hosted Mitchell on a December official visit. He committed quickly thereafter when he saw massive changes from his time in 2012 as a target of the former coaching staff.
Mitchell waited until the end of Arkansas' season to announce his decision.
“I visited again and something that gives you just a complete different vibe is the coaching staff,” Mitchell said. “The reason I went to Rutgers in the first place is because I didn't feel that genuine, although it's home, I didn't feel that genuine home culture when the previous coaches were there. Due to coach Ash, I see everybody just kind of clicks and comes together and how he keeps everyone's best interest at hard with graduating and networking and facilities. You can definitely see it coming together.”
Mitchell reunites with Rutgers coach Chris Ash, who is all-too-familiar with recruiting the former Cedar Creek star.
Ash recruited Mitchell during stops at both Wisconsin and Arkansas as a position coach. He did so again as Rutgers football head coach.
“It's huge,” Mitchell said. “It's big, and I appreciate him for it. I would say we have a relationship like none other based off of three different schools and the time we've spent building that relationship.”
Family was the theme of Mitchell's re-recruitment to Rutgers. He joins younger brother Ahmir Mitchell as projected impact players on the 2017 roster. Damon Mitchell is also close with incoming receiver Bo Melton and played at the same high school as center commit Owen Bowles.
“I've been playing with those dudes my whole life,” Mitchell said. “It was Bo in eighth grade doing backyard football and Ahmir being my little brother, both of them were watching the big brothers growing up, myself and Gary Melton. I'm excited to be able to have the opportunity to play with my brother and Bo, who is family as well. I've been spending time with the Melton family since middle school. Having those Creek boys up at RU is going to be huge.”
Mitchell competed often against former Rutgers receiver Vance Matthews from Lower Cape May. While Matthews completed his Rutgers career last semester, the two remain in touch.
“I have this picture and it's one of my favorite images of us because Vance Matthews was a great competitor that I played against in high school,” he said. “It was basketball and football. He's an alumni but I watched him throughout his career. I was excited to get there because I never really saw him after high school.”
As smart as he his athletic, Mitchell completed his Arkansas degree with a double major in English and journalism. He joins the Rutgers masters program for education psychology in three weeks.
“I'm pursuing the career field that I want to be in when it's all said and done,” Mitchell said. “That's very important to me. I graduated early, so I earned the opportunity.”
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