Mitchells’ return only part of title trek
Long, winding road leads brothers to EWU -- and back to Texas
Duane Cross, NCAA.com
FRISCO, Texas – Bo Levi Mitchell is home, back in Texas as the hopeful conquering hero. Eastern Washington’s junior quarterback will lead the Eagles’ assault against Delaware in the FCS Championship Game (7 p.m. ET Friday on ESPN2/espn3.com).
So, too, is brother Cory, a freshman receiver at EWU. The Mitchells will play together in front of friends and family for the first time since 2006, when they were at Katy High School. Cory graduated in ’06; Bo in ’08, after passing for 2,451 yards and 37 touchdowns with only four interceptions to lead Katy to an undefeated season and the 5A state championship.
So how is Cory the freshman and Bo, the youngest brother, a junior? After high school Cory joined the blue-collar workforce. Meanwhile, Bo enrolled at Southern Methodist, spent two years with the Mustangs and then transferred to Eastern Washington. A two-year starter at SMU, Bo suffered a shoulder injury and lost the starting job to Kyle Padron. Wanting to get the most out of his final two years of eligibility, Mitchell enrolled in February 2010 at EWU, which had recruited him out of high school.
With his brother roughly 2,108 miles away, Cory got the itch to again buckle the chinstrap and asked to try out for the Eagles’ football team.
"I worked for AT&T, I got a steady job, started making good money,” Cory said of his post-high school life. “Then I started wishing I could play college football, and then Bo got this opportunity and asked if I could come play. Coach [Beau] Baldwin said to send me your [game] tapes and we’ll consider it. I did that and here I am. It worked out.”
Four years after his final high school game, Cory was back in pads and ready to face the challenge of competing for playing time. “All of spring [practice] was pretty rough,” he admitted. “I thought I was in shape, but I wasn’t. There’s nothing like spring football shape.
“I’d give up the money any day for doing this. It’s a dream come true for me. After high school I never thought I’d have the chance to play college football. This has been a true blessing.”
Baldwin took a calculated risk with Cory; even four years removed from the game the coach saw a lot of things to like on game film. “I was able to go back and look at film from when he was coming out of high school, and he can play.
“With his talent level, he can run, he can catch, he can do all the little things to be a great receiver at this level,” Baldwin said. “I can see him taking huge strides next spring and into next fall. His best football at Eastern is still in the future.”
While Bo has been the under-center of attention with the Eagles during their trek to the title game, Cory has been honing his skill set in practices. That doesn’t diminish the sibling rivalry.
“Our oldest brother [Patrick] thinks he’s the greatest athlete, thinks he taught us everything,” Cory said. “We always have that argument. One time we actually asked our mom who she thought was the best athlete was and she said the youngest one, so …”
The opportunity to play again with his brother isn’t lost on Bo, especially on the national stage in familiar surroundings. “It’s fun because, honestly, we were a lot more competitive in baseball,” Bo said. “Cory always had that one step on me; I always had to play up. In football, we actually have that chance; you can’t play up. It comes back full circle. That first time I throw that ball and he catches it, it’s gonna be huge. I know my parents are going to be crying.
“When you look at it, everything that happened here [in Texas] -- win the state, going to SMU, getting injured and losing my [starting] job, going out to Washington and then coming back here to play for the national championship … it’s one of those things you dream of. Getting to play back under the ‘Friday night lights’ in front of the Texas fans, it’s probably the most excited I’ve ever been.”
Friday night. In their home state. Friends at hand. Indeed it will be a family affair for the Mitchells. Just like the brothers drew it up, only four years -- and possibly a national championship -- later.