Blue White Illustrated

May 2023

Penn State Sports Magazine

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5 8 M A Y 2 0 2 3 W W W . B L U E W H I T E O N L I N E . C O M F lorida prospect Jon Mitchell had long been considered one of assis- tant coach Terry Smith's most im- portant targets at the cornerback po- sition in the 2024 recruiting cycle. On April 1, Smith got his man. Mitchell, a four-star player in the On3 Industry Ranking, chose the Nittany Li- ons over an assortment of Power Five schools. Although in-state schools Mi- ami and Florida State were among those chasing him, he said Penn State seemed like a better fit. "It really feels like home to me," he told On3. "The way coach Terry Smith de- velops his cornerbacks to be elite stands out. Also, I just fell in love with the facil- ity, and all the coaches are just genuine. It's a family I want to be a part of." A standout at Mandarin High in Jack- sonville, Mitchell is the No. 145 overall prospect in the On3 Industry Ranking, as well as the No. 15 cornerback and No. 21 player in Florida. He said that his rela- tionship with Smith played a big role in his decision to choose the Nittany Lions. "He's just a great guy in general and will talk football, but then he'll commu- nicate with you and have talks about life," Mitchell said. "He's one of the best [cor- nerbacks] coaches in college football." Listed at 5-foot-11, 170 pounds, Mitchell earned an offer from Penn State in September 2022. He then visited State College a month later for the Nittany Li- ons' White Out game against Minnesota. That's when PSU emerged as a serious contender for his services. Mitchell's position coach at Manda- rin, Cavonte Campbell, played a role in kickstarting this recruitment. Campbell trained current PSU sophomore corner- back Cam Miller and was acquainted with Smith. The relationship between the two coaches helped Mitchell develop trust with Smith early on. "Jon is a very low-maintenance kid," Campbell said. "He's not a super vo- cal guy, more of a leader by example. He's super competitive though and has some God-given talents that are going to make him successful no matter where he goes." In addition to Penn State, Mitch- ell visited six schools, including recent trips to Florida State, Miami and Notre Dame. Those three were believed to be Penn State's main competitors, although Campbell also checked out Mississippi State, Northwestern and Central Florida in 2022. With his commitment, Mitchell be- came the top-ranked player in Penn State's 2024 recruiting class. On3's scouts have him ranked No. 61 nation- ally, No. 8 among cornerbacks and No. 9 in Florida. ■ Terry Smith Earns A Win In Battle For Elite Florida Cornerback RYA N S N Y D E R | R YA N. S N Y D E R @ O N 3 . C O M COMMITMENT PROFILE JON MITCHELL Mitchell became the highest-rated prospect in Penn State's 2024 class when he committed on April 1. PHOTO COURTESY JON MITCHELL Terry Smith strikes again. The veteran assistant coach secured another high-profile prospect from the South, landing a commitment from four-star Florida cornerback Jon Mitchell in early April. Here's why the Nittany Lions like him so much: STRENGTHS Feet/hips: Numerous physical traits go into mak- ing a cornerback a high-value prospect. Of course, height, length and frame are part of the conversa- tion, but nothing trumps having the feet and hips to play the position. In that regard, Mitchell is one of the best prospects Penn State has secured in some time. Press coverage: This is an obvious area where Mitchell excels, thanks to his physical gifts. He shows great awareness in man coverage beyond his smooth hip flips and quick feet, and he seems to understand leverage while doing a great job playing the proper side of his man when he has help and when he doesn't. Tackling: While Mitchell isn't a striker who will instill fear in the hearts of offensive players, he doesn't shy away from contact. At 170 pounds, he's the right level of physical for a cornerback focused on playing receivers over the run. AREAS OF DEVELOPMENT Size/strength: Mitchell has good length but not a massive frame or well-developed muscular build like last year's four-star cornerback commit Elliot Washington. Speed: Mitchell's fluidity of movement is more of a standout trait than his pure speed. That fact is confirmed by an 11.17-second 100-meter dash time from last spring's track season. A year later, it's likely that time has improved. Mitchell should be fast enough to play at a high level for Penn State, but the actual timed speed is still a question. PROJECTION Outside cornerback: Mitchell has a very clean tape with few holes in his profile. While he doesn't have outstanding traits in one area, he also doesn't have any deficiencies. If we're nitpicking, his length is less than ideal, but many players have that problem and still succeed. Slot cornerback: There is nothing holding Mitch- ell back from playing inside if the defensive staff wants to use him in such a role. His feet and mir- roring ability allow him to play routes with a two- way go very well. It's easy to envision a future in which he flips inside to cover a team's best receiver when they move him around the forma- tion. This is another reason Mitchell is a home run commit for Penn State. — Thomas Frank Carr P L A Y E R E V A L U A T I O N

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