This commitment has somewhat been a long time in coming, really. Sean Levy and Matej Sis of 247 have had their crystal balls in on Mitchell since early February, and nothing on Mitchell has ever really ticked past Virginia Tech on his radar. We did an interview with Mitchell all the way back in May of 2016, when he was still simply a rising recruit. He was offered back in March of 2016, and the Hokies were his second offer after UVA (though UVA wasn’t exactly in the running, the big three in the competition ended up as Tech, Duke, and Georgia).
But he told us that even as a kid, he and his father were Virginia Tech fans, so for once that factor seems to have anecdotally worked in our favor. Back in 2016 I was excited about his frame as a wide receiver- he still only tags in at 218lbs- but he was already dominating DBs. Union is a 2A school, which is the second lowest level of VHSL competition, but it made it to the state semi-finals, losing to eventual 2A state champ Appomattox County.
As for rankings, Mitchell is rated as a three star tight end by 247sports and ESPN (who has him in at 6’-5”, 230lbs), and four stars by Rivals, who has him at 6’-4”, 210lbs. Mitchell is rated as highly as the 6th best player in Virginia by Rivals and 247 to the 12th by ESPN. Oddly his 247 composite has him as the 69th rated wide receiver. Other schools that offered Mitchell include Duke, Georga, Tennessee, Clemson, South Carolina, Mississippi, Vanderbilt, and West Virginia. Mitchell is the 24th commitment to the class after Jordan McFadden decommitted, and the fifth player from Virginia. He is also the only tight end in the class, and 12th(ish) offensive recruit for the team. He was, of course, recruited by James Shibest, the special teams and tight ends coach.
Let’s take a look at newer tape and see what’s up. Luckily he posted his senior year’s video just the other day…
James Mitchell (Big Stone Gap, VA. 6’-5”, 230lbs. Tight End)
I went with the ESPN numbers since they were Nike verified. But there are a couple things that pop off the film as I watch. One, the most obvious, was that Mitchell WAY outclassed most of the competition he was going up against in terms of pure athletic ability and strength. The kid is a fluid athlete. He’s not possessed of blinding speed or amazingly deft moves (though his are quite admirable). But he’s got a very good mix of size, strength, speed, and wherewithal that makes him a very dangerous football player. As a Hokie, he’d probably line up as a move tight end like Hodges- though Hodges played more receiver. I think his on-ball skills have gone up some in the few catches we got to see. But seems like the team, if the highlights are to be believed, transitioned to a much heavier wildcat style offense to give their best and most athletic player the ball more frequently. He runs well and is quite strong, and seems to be a willing downfield blocker once the play is around him. He’s at the very least an extremely interesting athletic piece to add to the Hokie Football team.
Welcome to the Hokies, James!