Recruiting: Fresh start for Mike Mitchell at Middleburg led to big jump on the field

Broncos senior committed to Utah on Thursday afternoon

Middleburg running back Mike Mitchell scores a touchdown against Clay last season. (Jim McCanney, News4JAX)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Mike Mitchell wasn’t planning on it, but it was an offer that he couldn’t say no to.

Mitchell, a Middleburg running back who is rated a three-star prospect by On3 and 247 Sports, committed to Utah to give the Broncos their first major college football recruit in what feels like a lifetime.

“I believed I was going to commit in a couple of months but I felt like I was ready and I felt like I knew where my home was and I kept talking to Coach [Kyle Whittingham] and it happened,” Mitchell said.

The last Broncos offensive player to sign with a Power 5 program was tight end Gary Barnidge to Louisville in 2004. Consider that Barnidge has played in the NFL, made the Pro Bowl and already retired from the league to put some perspective on how significant Mitchell’s commitment is for Middleburg and coach Ryan Wolfe. The last Middleburg player to sign with a Power 5 school was in 2008 (four-star cornerback Patrick Nixon-Youman to Illinois).

More recruiting

RECRUITING ‘23 | RB Sam Singleton rising for Fleming Island

RECRUITING ‘23 | Big day as Howard, Denson, Kearney pick schools

RECRUITING ‘23 | Columbia duo Jaden Robinson, Amare Ferrell ready for big senior season

RECRUITING ‘23 | Westside’s Jordan Hall brings spotlight to Wolverines

RECRUITING ‘23 | Sharif Denson hopes his commitment opens Gators pipeline to Bartram Trail

That’s how long it’s been for the Broncos.

Mitchell (6-0, 200 pounds) rushed for 1,378 yards and 18 TDs, averaging 8.9 yards per carry as Broncos posted five-game improvement from 2020. He was a second-team selection on the All-News4JAX team. Middleburg finished 5-5 after an 0-10 season in 2020.

It was a much-needed fresh start for Mitchell, who languished in a crowded offensive system in 2020 at Oakleaf. He managed just 140 yards on 27 carries behind an 1,100-yard back (Adrian Grey) and dual-threat quarterback Walter Simmons III. Last season, Mitchell averaged 172 rushing yards per game. He said the Broncos have the talent to be the best team in Clay County this year.

Two of the top senior backs in the area, Mitchell and Fleming Island’s Sam Singleton, both play in Clay County. The third top back, Trinity Christian’s Treyaun Webb, will try and lead the Conquerors to their third consecutive state title.

“It was a new beginning for me. I see the field a lot more,” Mitchell said. “All the coaches believed in me, they pushed me harder and that’s why when I touched the field I got to show what I could do and it paid off.”

Top local recruits in the Class of 2023

The rankings are the On3 consensus rankings, a metric that combines grades from On3, ESPN, Rivals and 247 Sports.

No., Position, Player, High school, Ht., Wt., College

115. OL Roderick Kearney, Orange Park, 6-4, 290, Florida State

132. DL Jordan Hall, Westside, 6-4, 300, Uncommitted

163. RB Treyaun Webb, Trinity Christian, 6-0, 188, Uncommitted

196. CB Sharif Denson, Bartram Trail, 5-11, 170, Florida

240. RB Sam Singleton, Fleming Island, 5-11, 180, Uncommitted

247. LB Grayson Howard, Jackson, 6-3, 223, South Carolina

377. LB Jaden Robinson, Columbia, 6-1, 212, Uncommitted

479. S Kenton Kirkland, Raines, 6-1, 176, Uncommitted

535. QB Marcus Stokes, Nease, 6-2, 185, Penn State

567. S Amare Ferrell, Columbia, 6-2, 192, Indiana

598. RB Mike Mitchell, Middleburg, 6-0, 200, Utah

677. TE Connor Cox, Bolles, 6-5, 225, South Carolina

752. WR Darion Domineck, Fleming Island, 6-4, 185, Uncommitted

781. OL Jamal Meriweather, Brunswick, 6-6, 261, UCF

811. OL Brendan Black, Bolles, 6-2, 266, Iowa State

834. WR Jeremiah Shack, Mandarin, 6-3, 191, Liberty

852. RB Manny Covey, Bradford, 5-11, 175, Cincinnati

866. DB Jarvis Lee, Clay, 5-11, 165, Virginia

897. LB Abram Wright, Fleming Island, 6-2, 220, Rutgers

974. DL Ka’Shawn Thomas, Brunswick, 6-3, 280, Wake Forest

1,208. OL Kyland Armstrong, Oakleaf, 603, 285, Wake Forest

About the Author:

Justin Barney joined News4Jax in February 2019, but he’s been covering sports on the First Coast for more than 20 years.