Fox Chapel transfer Mitchell stands tall
By Paul Kogut
Published: Monday, Aug. 20, 2012, 12:01 a.m.
There's a newcomer playing for the Fox Chapel football team, and he stands out like, well, a 6-foot-6, 200-pound quarterback/wide receiver.
Junior Brandon Mitchell transferred from Penn Hills in January, and Fox Chapel coach Eric Ravotti felt like he received a late Christmas gift.
“Athletically, he's off the charts,” said Ravotti, a former Penn State and Steelers linebacker. “He'll play some sets at quarterback, with a run-pass option, and some sets at wide receiver.”
Mitchell mainly played for Penn Hills' junior-varsity team last year. But during offseason camps and 7-on-7 competitions, he displayed the skills to become a difference-maker, and several Division I colleges have noticed, Ravotti said.
Mitchell's height, speed (4.5 seconds in the 40-yard dash) and success in track (a Class AAA state qualifier in both hurdles events this spring) could translate into good fortune on the football field. Mitchell, who has received letters from Georgia Tech, Pitt and Wisconsin, is eager to shoulder a large offensive role, as well as play free safety.
“It feels good,” he said. “I'd be disappointed if I didn't. It feels like I'm ready.”
Mitchell's potential excites Ravotti, but the coach cautions against expecting too much from the junior in his first games as a varsity starter. Mitchell looked “raw” at quarterback when he arrived at Fox Chapel but has made strides, Ravotti said.
Between his freshman and sophomore years at Penn Hills, Mitchell competed in the National Underclassmen Ultimate 100 East camp, an invitation-only event for rising sophomores in Delaware. He earned the award for best performance at multiple positions (quarterback and receiver).
This summer, Mitchell and some of his Fox Chapel teammates competed in Pitt's 7-on-7 camp, which featured about 40 teams.
Mitchell moved into the Fox Chapel Area School District with his father, Edward. Brandon's older brother, Dorian Beard, starred at Penn Hills as a defensive lineman before graduating in 2001 and accepting a scholarship to Akron. Mitchell hopes to follow in his footsteps and play in Division I.
“He keeps me striving forward and working hard,” Mitchell said.
Ravotti thinks Mitchell's best chance for a Division I future could be at receiver because his combination of height and speed is uncommon at that position. Ravotti plans to split Mitchell's time between quarterback and receiver.
“He's a great deep threat,” Ravotti said. “And at 6-6, his ability to jump is something we want to use in the passing game.”
Paul Kogut is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 724-224-2696.
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