One of the fast-rising prospects on the West Coast this spring is Mitchell Schwartz, the 6'5.5" 302-pound offensive tackle from Pacific Palisades (Calif.) Charter High School. Schwartz' name drew instant recognition when he popped onto the recruiting radar as a sophomore, as the brother of current Oregon offensive tackle Geoff Schwartz. The younger Schwartz could be the victim of too-high expectations, given the tremendous impact that his older brother has had in Eugene. The 6'7" 359-pound right tackle started all 12 games for the Ducks last fall as a sophomore, after playing in 2004 as a true freshman.
"I think it's a good thing because I got a little earlier exposure then he did," says the Palisades Charter junior. "I went on official visits with him. I went to campuses and combines pretty early. And I am pretty big for my age."
Mitchell Schwartz has not taken it easy and ridden his brother's coattails, however. Playing both offensive tackle and defensive tackle, he earned First Team All-League, First Team All-City and First Team All-State Underclass honors. Schwartz makes an impact on both sides of the ball, though he drew more acclaim and is being recruited for offense after the job he did at right tackle protecting the blind side of his lefty quarterback.
"I like offense better because of the mental aspect," he explains. "What you have to do and where you have to be. It's fun to open holes for a running back or to protect my quarterback."
The spring is a time for football prospects like Schwartz to make great improvements in their technique, physique and athleticism, with a host of opportunities to show their wares to visiting college coaches at their school or at invitation combines. But this offensive tackle recruit is in the heat of his school's baseball season as a pitcher and first baseman, yet another point of comparison with his older brother.
"Geoff was a three-sport guy," the younger brother reminds us. "We have similar body types. We're pretty similar in a lot of ways. He's just a bigger person overall - bigger bone structure and body type."
We remember well the talk from Geoff Schwartz about how much he wanted to play baseball and football both in college. A tall and talented pitching prospect, the 6'7" multi-sport athlete surprised when he ultimately gave his commitment and signed with Oregon - the only school in the Pac-10 that does not field a baseball team. With the younger brother playing baseball this spring and also in the summer, we again have to ask the question of what Schwartz wants to do athletically in college.
"I will play American Legion baseball this summer, but football is my priority," he answers. "Baseball is more of a passion than a priority. I don't think at this point I'm college material."
While Schwartz says that he is signed up to attend the Stanford baseball camp this summer, the remainder of his stops will come in football.
"I'm going to the USC O-line camp on June 11," he reports. "I'm not sure about the others. Maybe the Stanford one. I have to check."
Scout.com has had a great look at Schwartz this past year, first at the U.S. Army All-American Combine in January and then a week ago at the Los Angeles Scout.com Combine. The big offensive tackle made a good enough impression in San Antonio and with his junior season play to be one of the first prospects in this 2007 recruiting class to be rated by Scout.com. What he showed eight days ago at Citrus College made a bigger impact, with Scout's recruiting analysts buzzing about the improvements he made in just a few months (not even taking into account the fact that he is playing baseball right now and has to greatly limit his upper body weightlifting while he pitches). Schwartz dropped more than 10 pounds, lowered his 40 and shuttle times, and was visibly improved in one-on-one battles.
"I measured 6'5" in January and now I'm 6'5.5". I guess I'm still growing," he adds.
"I think his body has started to mature. He looks a lot more like a Division I tackle prospect than he did in San Antonio," comments Chris Fetters, West recruiting analyst for Scout.com. "And he definitely took the fight to a lot of the top guys at Citrus, including Everson Griffen."
"I definitely believe San Antonio gave him a great idea as to what the competition at the D-I level was going to be like, for sure," Fetters continues. "And the way he competed at Citrus, he took it to heart."
"I think I did pretty well," Schwartz assesses of his performance. "I competed and held my own against some pretty good guys."
Coming out of the Scout.com Combine, Schwartz was strengthening his reputation but perhaps surprisingly still waited for the first school to take the plunge.
"I don't have any offers yet," he said. "I can't really predict what teams will do. I can just keep improving - my footwork, agility and knee-bend. Stay low and finish my blocks."
The offer drought ended in magnificent fashion on Friday, when Michigan made the first play for the Los Angeles offensive tackle.
"My coach called me in and said that their recruiting coordinator had called. They were verbally going to offer me," the recruit recounts. "He said that he was going to come by the school later and tell me. He came by around 1:00 or 1:30 and said that their O-line coach really likes me, and that they would like to offer me. We are supposed to set up a call with Coach [Lloyd] Carr."
"It was kind of surprising that my first offer came from such a top school," Schwartz continues. "Michigan is always one of the best schools, always up there in the rankings. That was an honor to be offered by them. I probably would have guessed that a smaller school would have offered first, but I couldn't tell you which one. I wouldn't have expected such a big school with such a great tradition."
With the Wolverines making the first play for the Palisades Charter lineman, they will certainly be in the mix. But did their offer propel them to the top of Schwartz' leaderboard?
"That's my only offer, so I have to sit back and just wait for others and see what's going to happen," he responds. "I will want to visit them, of course. I want to visit other schools to see what is the best school possible for me."
With an offer in hand, Schwartz attended the Stanford Nike Camp on Saturday and continued the strong on-field performance that made us take notice the previous weekend in Los Angeles. He and his father stayed in town that night to attend Stanford's Junior Day on Sunday.
"I just want to go and meet the coaches and have a good time," he said Saturday of his expectations for the Junior Day. "I want to see where they stand on wanting me - both sides communicate and see what we want and will work out best."
The communication lines lit up on Sunday, with Schwartz netting an offer from Walt Harris. He and his father returned to Los Angeles late that evening, and Lee Schwartz gave us notice of the Cardinal offer via email. We will follow up with the younger Schwartz for his reaction to his second scholarship offer, as well as his experiences at his second Junior Day. He previously attended a Junior Day at USC.
In the meantime, we can offer you Schwartz' comments on the Cardinal he gave us prior to the offer and Junior Day on The Farm:
"Coach [Tom] Freeman has been recruiting me. He has been down a couple times, and they send me a lot of letters," Schwartz begins. "I went to the Stanford football camp last year, so I know the coaches pretty well. They send me a lot of handwritten notes and keep me informed, like on their spring practices."
"I'm not expecting anything. It would obviously be awesome if they offered me. I think they offered Geoff when he went to their Junior Day," he adds. "Stanford obviously is such a great school in general, even if you take away sports. Just saying that you go to Stanford is a big deal."
With his size and ability, it surprised no one that Schwartz picked up offers from Michigan and Stanford this spring. His academics are just as strong, scoring a 29 on the ACT as a sophomore with a planned retake in June. He holds down a weighted 4.3 GPA at his high school, taking honors classes plus a pair of AP courses.
"Of course, because of Stanford's unique approach, a scholarship offer is contingent upon completion, evaluation and approval of Mitchell's admissions application," Lee Schwartz told us in his email.
One other school which has to be considered a big player, though they have yet to offer, is Oregon. Geoff Schwartz is having a good deal of success in Eugene, and the draw of playing with his brother is not lost on Mitchell. Moreover, there is a good deal of familiarity with the campus, coaches and players for the 2007 recruit.
"I know the coaches real well," says the younger Schwartz. "That helps with me because I know how we get along. That helps when you make a big step from high school to college."
"It would be cool to play with my brother in college, but I have to make the decision that is best for me," he allows. "I would only have one year with him. I don't want to make the biggest decision of my life for one year. Oregon is not a dream school."
Things are heating up for Mitchell Schwartz with his first two offers, and he can expect other schools to follow suit to keep up with the competition. Stay tuned for all the latest on this compelling story as it continues to take shape.
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