Local player stays GoldenPublished 6:00am Saturday, August 4, 2012
Caleb Mitchell is probably a familiar name to those who watched Russellville High School football over the past few years.
The 2008 RHS graduate played for the Golden Tigers starting in middle school from 2003 to 2007.
He now plays for the Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles of the Ohio Valley Conference (OVC) of the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS). Tennessee Tech is located in Cookeville, Tenn., just over 80 miles due east of Nashville.
“I’ve been playing football since seventh or eighth grade,” Mitchell said.
“I played free safety and wide receiver at Russellville. I didn’t make the switch to free safety until I was a sophomore, and I made the switch because a guy on our team got hurt and couldn’t play.
“I’ve played there ever since. I couldn’t tell you which one I liked more because I liked them equally.
“I didn’t care if I played there or wide receiver in college.”
Like so many athletes before him, Mitchell had to make a decision as to where he would take his talents after graduation.
His journey just happened to make a near pit stop before he signed with Tennessee Tech.
“I originally signed with Wallace State to play baseball,” he said. “Tennessee Tech came along right after that and came after me.
“Their baseball coach came to see me practice, and then the football coaches came.
“They said that they wanted me to play both sports, so that’s why I changed and went to Tech, because I could play both sports there and I would be on full scholarship for football. It paid for my school, yet I could play baseball, too.
“Coach [Watson] Brown played both in college, so he thought it would be cool if I could do both, too.
“I ended up getting hurt my freshman year in football and didn’t get to play baseball that year.”
If that name seems familiar, it’s because Coach Brown was head football coach at UAB from 1995 to 2006.
Mitchell was recently named to the College Football Preseason Awards (CFPA) preseason Watch List for top FCS players as a punt returner for special teams.
Mitchell returned six kicks for 89 yards last season, including a 46-yard return against Maryville College.
As a cornerback he had 18 solo tackles, 28 total stops and two interceptions as well.
What may be more interesting than Mitchell receiving the honor is how he found out about making the list.
“I found out about two weeks ago,” he said. “I never really get on the website, and somebody was looking on the Internet.
“I looked over and said ‘that looks like me.’ I started reading it and it was about me. I wasn’t expecting it, but there it was.
“It made me feel really good. I didn’t get a whole lot of punt returns last year just because most of them were fair catches, but when I had a little bit of room I made some good yardage.
“It makes me want to work harder this year to show out at punt returner.”
Mitchell is a senior at Tech and will graduate this December with a degree in Athletic Administrations.
He has a good idea in mind of what he would like to do with that degree after his college years end this year.
“I want to be a coach,” he said. “I’ll probably start in the collegiate level coaching and get some experience.
“One day I’d like to be an Athletic Director. Anywhere in the SEC in football would be nice, but if I got my experience and college wasn’t for me it would be awesome to come back home and coach here or anywhere around here to be close to family.”