If he leads St. John Bosco football team where he hopes to, the versatile quarterback will be a prime candidate to be the school’s second straight Mr. Football State Player of the Year. He’d be the first one in which we had a long conversation with him about the honor and how each race for it plays out differently.
Note: For writeup on Elite 11 QB Matt Corral of Long Beach Poly, CLICK HERE. For writeup on Elite 11 QB Tanner McKee of Corona Centennial, CLICK HERE. We’ll also have additional article on the other California QB who was at this year’s Elite 11 Finals that were held on June 2-4 at Redondo (Redondo Beach) coming soon. That will be about Jack Tuttle (San Marcos Mission Hills).
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One of the most excited players from the 2016 CIF Open Division state champion St. John Bosco football team when the Mr. Football State Player of the Year selection was announced last January was junior quarterback Re-al Mitchell. And why not? He had a front row seat in watching senior lineman teammate Wyatt Davis dominate up front in those last three wins against Centennial of Corona, Mater Dei of Santa Ana and De La Salle of Concord.
“That was awesome that he got that,” Mitchell said at last month’s Elite 11 quarterback finals that were held at Redondo Union High in Redondo Beach. “That would be huge if we got it again.”
It was quickly explained to Mitchell how the selection was won by Davis (now at Ohio State), especially because heading into the CIF Southern Section Division I final the front-runner was record-breaking Mater Dei sophomore quarterback J.T. Daniels. The upcoming season was discussed next and it was mentioned that if the Braves were to repeat and perhaps go unbeaten with a mythical national title that the quarterback leading that team may be too hard not to pick as Mr. Football as well. And even so, it also can’t be discounted if someone else comes along and puts up stats that are unreal, such as 90 touchdown passes and 5,700 yards like Jake Browning of Folsom in 2014.
Mitchell’s first experience at the big-time varsity level came in the 2015 CIFSS championship when he had to go in at quarterback as a sophomore for senior Quentin Davis (no relation to Wyatt), who had suffered an injury in a game against Centennial that was being played at a dizzying pace. Although the Braves lost 62-52, Mitchell kept them close and finished with 185 yards passing on 8 of 14 with two TDs plus 128 yards rushing on 11 carries and one score.
Last season, Mitchell was the starter since Day 1. He had a bad start in a regular season loss to Mater Dei (two interceptions, no TDs) but ended on a roll. That included his 18 of 20 line for 192 yards and two TDs plus 41 yards rushing in the state final win against De La Salle. For the season, Mitchell ended with 2,932 yards passing with 30 TDs and he had another 1,058 yards rushing with 15 scores.
Those rushing numbers plus his sprinter’s speed (he was a track athlete in his younger years) are good for post-season honors but not necessarily as good for a quarterback trying to elevate himself against those who are more known for their throwing. Plus, Re-al doesn’t have that magical 6-foot-3 or taller frame that most college coaches are looking for.
“At Bosco, a lot of times you read the defense and then I take off with my legs,” said Mitchell, who is listed at 5-foot-10. “For this (at Elite 11), you have to look at other certain things and react differently.”
Mitchell says he’s been very aware of the run-first label and being known for speed and has been working hard all summer to change it.
“The Elite 11 helps a quarterback project a different image,” he said. “But if that doesn’t do it, then I could care less. It’s just about getting better myself and improving my future.”
For Mitchell, that future is a commitment with Iowa State. He said he developed a strong relationship with a couple of the coaches there and has been impressed with the entire coaching staff. And yes, the Cyclones have told him they want him as a quarterback, not to play another position utilizing that speed.
Iowa State had success with a California quarterback in the past when former Cordova (Rancho Cordova) quarterback Seneca Wallace played there. Wallace then later went on to have a career in the NFL. Mitchell was told that when Wallace was a senior in high school he was not recruited and played on a team that went 1-9, which required him to go to Sacramento City College to develop and then get offers.
That is not a problem Mitchell will have. The Braves will once again play a national schedule and may have to face Mater Dei twice (once in the Trinity League and later in the playoffs) to have their ultimate dreams come true.
“It all started for us in January just a couple of weeks after the last game,” Mitchell said. “We have had the goal to be national champion and we set up a schedule to make that obtainable. We do have a lot of young guys on the team and my priority right now is trying to get those guys to get their heads on straight.”
Mitchell did not get onto the list of the final 12 from the Elite 11 event at Redondo, but in his final workout of the weekend he was sharp.
“I just missed a couple of throws,” he said. “Definitely, once I submerged myself in the offense here things went better.”
Only time will tell if there will be a follow-up interview with Re-al next January.