SAN ANTONIO, Tex. -- Down to three finalists, 2013 Plano (Tex.) Prestonwood Christian linebacker Mike Mitchell is ready to make his long-awaited decision during the US Army All-American game on Saturday at the Alamodome.
After the second practice on Monday for Mitchell's West team, he was all smiles when asked about the experience of playing alongside some of the top recruits in the country.
"It's awesome, everything is so big here and it's a really big honor," said the 6-4, 225-pound linebacker.
Ohio State, Oregon, and Texas A&M are the finalists for Mitchell. Oklahoma had been a team in which Mitchell was interested, and vice versa, but the Sooners recently took commitments from two in-state linebackers and have shut down recruiting at the position.
And is Oregon really heavily in the mix, though, as Mitchell hasn't made it out to Eugene to visit and will obviously make his decision before having a chance to do so? It's not unheard of for prospects to commit sight unseen, but it is definitely rare at this stage of the process.
That leaves the Aggies and Buckeyes as the two serious contenders for the services of the consensus four-star prospect who tests as well as any player in the country in the 2013 class.
Mitchell shared his thoughts on A&M.
"The coaches, I know them really well, since they've been with me from the start, so I have a good relationship with them," he said. "They're probably the closest school, so they're the only school that I have left that's in Texas, so that's another big plus."
Will that impact his decision?
"No, not impact, but it would be nice to stay in state."
Of course, Mitchell doesn't have extremely deep ties to the state of Texas. He grew up in Florida as a Gator fan, part of the appeal of Ohio State now that Urban Meyer is the head coach in Columbus.
"I felt really good going there, I felt like I would fit in going there," said Mitchell. "I've had a really good relationship with coach Meyer and my position coach and everybody else there. It's a good opportunity to go in there and fight for a starting job, because they're pretty thin at linebacker."
The Buckeyes lose starter Storm Klein and Etienne Sabino at linebacker, and while leading tackler Ryan Shazier is just a sophomore at the weakside spot, only only Shazier and Sabino finished among the top 13 tacklers overall for Ohio State. They clearly need some help and, from the sound of it, the appeal of early playing time is a significant one.
"I think I would be able to compete for early playing time," Mitchell said.
Finally getting to meet his childhood idol helped cap off the official visit to Ohio State for Mitchell.
"Yeah, that's the first time that I actually met him. It was awesome, I watched him when I was little with Tim Tebow and the Gators and all that, so I've always loved him and have always been a big fan."
Conventional wisdom has held for some time that Mitchell nearly committed to the Buckeyes back in the summer before he had even visited, so choosing Texas A&M over Ohio State on Saturday would be something of an upset.