Mitchell signs with Tennessee Tech Russellville senior will play football, baseball
Russellville senior Caleb Mitchell wore a sharp suit and a mile-wide smile as he signed a full football scholarship to Tennessee Tech Monday morning at the RHS Field House.
"It's a relief – it feels good to know where I'm going," said Mitchell, who will play two sports for Tennessee Tech, a member of the Division I FCS Ohio Valley Conference. "I made the decision a couple days after the last baseball game (May 2). I decided to sign with Tennessee Tech because I will get to play football and baseball, and it's a good school."
Mitchell, 18, an All-State defensive back, wide receiver and kick returner with 4.37 speed, recorded five interceptions, including one for a touchdown, for the No. 8 Golden Tigers, which finished 10-2 and advanced to the second round of the state playoffs. On offense, he caught 22 passes for 577 yards and seven touchdowns and rushed 25 times for 264 yards and two scores.
Russellville football coach Doug Goodwin described Mitchell as a versatile athlete.
"Caleb is as athletic as anybody, and he's a great football player who is also a great kid that's respectful and works hard," Goodwin said. "He's very versatile, and he can play both sides of the football and return kicks. A lot of guys can do one thing great but he can do several things great."
Mitchell chose Tennessee Tech over several other schools, including an offer from Tennessee-Martin to play both sports and a baseball scholarsip from Wallace State-Hanceville.
"I visited Taz (Tillery) at UT-Martin but I didn't like it up there. I like coach (Watson) Brown at Tennessee Tech because he's not going to leave since that's his hometown, and he plans to make it a great program."
Mitchell's No. 15 black-and-gold football jersey is a familar sight to Golden Tigers fans, and he will don the same number for the purple-and-gold Golden Eagles. He is also expected to line up in the same positions he played during his prep career.
"Coach Brown said last week that he wants to try me out at free safety, and I'll also get a chance to return punts," MItchell said.
Mitchell, who is currently listed at 6-0, 180 pounds, said he will be given a chance to play as a freshman, and he plans to work out this summer to ensure fall camp goes smoothly.
"I'm not nervous about playing college ball but I'm going to work hard during the off-season to make sure I'm in shape when I get up there this fall," Mitchell said.
After football season, Mitchell, who wants to play professional baseball after college, will be given the chance to play outfield for the baseball team, managed by fifth-year coach Matt Bragga, a former assistant at Birmingham-Southern College.
Mitchell led Russellville in stolen bases and runs scored this season, while hitting .325 with 31 walks for the eighth-ranked Russellville, which advanced to the quarterfinals for the second straight season.
Russellville baseball coach David Ward called Mitchell is a special player.
"To be able to play two sports for a Division I school is pretty special, and he's a good student," said Ward, who has coached Mitchell for nearly 10 years. "He did a great job this season as our leadoff hitter, and he was able to get on base a lot more than last year because he became much more disciplined at the plate."
Mitchell, who is a member of the National Honor Society, FCA, Booster Club and annual staff, has a 3.2 GPA and plans to major in business at Tennessee Tech and become an actuary. He is the son of John and Suzanne Mitchell of Russellville.