Athlete spotlight: SU football player Byron Mitchell
Posted: November 20, 2012
Shenandoah University 20-year-old junior
Position: Free Safety/Kickoff Returner
Parents: Venus and Tony Mitchell
Hometown: Virginia Beach
High School: Tallwood (Class of 2010)
Major: Sports Media
Nickname: No nickname. Sometimes just “Bryce.” (Bryce, an SU basketball point guard, and Byron are part of a set of triplets.) It’s crazy.
When did you start playing football: My ninth grade year. I really looked up to my older brother Brandon, and he was playing all his life. (Brandon was a former defensive back at Bridgewater.) I was playing every year before that, but when I got to high school I really wanted to keep going with what he was doing. That’s why I decided to pick it up, because of him.
What you love about football: Just the fact that I’m really able to go out there and really just run around. Sometimes when I was a little I liked to go on the playground and climb on stuff, and now I get to use my athleticism to just run around and make big plays.
Biggest strength and weakness in football: My biggest strength is probably my athleticism. With my speed, I can do a lot of things that most players can’t do. I might not be the fastest, but I can break tackles easily. I’m hard to tackle when I’ve got the ball in my hands, and I can do what coaches ask me to do. My biggest weakness is I probably think too much. I get out on the field sometimes, and I see the ball coming to me for an interception, and I’ll think, ‘I got to get this, I got to end this,’ and I end up dropping it. I need to do less of that sometimes to help the team.
Most memorable moment in football: This year in college, when we ran our first fake punt, [a catch that went] for 41 yards in the Stevenson game. That set up our first touchdown. [Defensive coordinator] Brock [McCullough] called the fake punt. I got out there and I was kind of nervous, like, ‘I can’t believe he called it.’ We practiced it all week, but I couldn’t believe we were about to do it. When I got the ball in my hands, I thought I was about to get tackled, but then I broke two tackles, and then to run all the way down [to the Stevenson 13] and set up our first touchdown was pretty exciting for me.
Most embarrassing moment in football: In high school, when they called Bryce’s name and I was on the field. He didn’t play, but they called his name the whole game. ‘Bryce Mitchell making the tackle, Bryce Mitchell with the catch.’ It was kind of embarrassing, because the crowd knew it wasn’t Bryce, and no matter how times my mom yelled up there, they were still calling his name.
Favorite athlete: [Chicago Bulls guard] Derrick Rose.
Favorite sports team: Green Bay Packers
Three people you can have dinner with, dead or alive: Rose, [country singer] Taylor Swift, and Abraham Lincoln.
Favorite Quote: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” — Philippians 4:13. It’s just something my mom has said to me ever since I was little. It’s just always something I’ve lived by no matter the situation in life. I look at it as something positive.
Favorite class in school: Sports sociology
What’s on the iPod: A little bit of everything. Rap, R&B, gospel. A lot of love songs. I listen to those before the game. It just makes me feel relaxed and calm. I’ll listen to Neo, Taylor Swift.
Pregame routine/ritual: I make sure I always pray. I dn;t always pray for a win, I just pray that we play well, and that both teams are healthy, and look out for everybody.
Plans after college: I want to get into sports writing for a newspaper somewhere. I haven’t thought about grad school, but I might do that.
— Compiled by Robert Niedzwiecki