Vols Back in the Mix for Former Eighth Grade Tennessee Commit Turned Five-Star

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    The Tennessee Volunteers are back in the fold for an elite high-school prospect that already has a wild history with the Vols. On Wednesday, On3 Sports’ Hayes Fawcett reported that Tennessee has now moved into the “Top Schools” list for five-star defensive back Tony Mitchell.

    If the name Tony Mitchell rings a bell, it is because Mitchell was a Tennessee commit before even playing high school football. In the summer of 2019, just before his freshman year of high school, Mitchell committed to Jeremy Pruitt’s Tennessee Volunteers. Before Pruitt and his staff were fired from Tennessee in January of 2021, Mitchell announced his decommitment from the Vols in March of 2020.

    “I just wasn’t feeling [Tennessee] anymore,” Mitchell said in an interview with BamaOnLine in 2020. “I didn’t feel like it was a place I was meant to be.”

    With a new staff and new leadership in place though, Tennessee looks to be back on Mitchell’s radar.

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    Mitchell ranks as a five-star prospect, the No. 2 safety, and the No. 20 overall player in the class according to On3 Sports’ consensus rankings.

    In addition, Mitchell is currently playing his high-school ball at Thompson High School in Alabaster, Alabama.

    “When he did arrive in high school, Mitchell made an immediate impact by helping Thompson win state titles in his freshman and sophomore seasons,” On3 Sports’ description of Mitchell states. “Things got even better as a junior, as Mitchell was named to the MaxPreps Junior All-America team and Thompson won its third straight title. Mitchell describes himself as “laid back” off the field, but on the field, he prides himself in being a leader. ‘I push myself every day to get out of my comfort zone and be more of a vocal leader,’ Mitchell said. ‘I’m just determined to do whatever it takes to help my teammates out and lead our team every time we step on the field.’ Mitchell also has one of the higher On3 NIL Valuations in high school football listed at more than $32,000.”

    With Tennessee now in the mix for five-star Tony Mitchell, the Vols are working to close in on at least three five-star players in the 2023 class. Tennessee already has a commitment from five-star quarterback Nico Iamaleava, and the Vols are currently leading the predictions for five-star wide receiver Carnell Tate. With Mitchell now in the fold, Tennessee could be looking at three five-star players in the class if everything goes according to plan.

    “Possesses ideal size for his position at 6-foot-2 and 180-pounds,” 247 Sports’ National Recruiting Expert Cooper Petagna said about Mitchell last December. “Appears to possess growth potential to add additional weight to his frame. Displays good athleticism in multiple positions throughout the secondary. Long reactionary defensive back with fluid hips that transitions smoothly in and out of breaks. More of a smooth hipped athlete than he is quick twitch explosive. Appears to have good short area quickness and change of direction ability. Displays good patience and suddenness as a man to man slot defender. Possesses above average play speed. Could see a natural progression to a deep middle defender or as a nickel from his corner position.”

    The five-star recruit has more than 30 scholarship offers, which is expected from a player of his caliber. Some of Mitchell’s offers include Alabama, Georgia, Texas A&M, Florida, and Ohio State.

    According to On3 Sports’ Recruiting Prediction Machine, Mitchell’s projections are as follows: Alabama 67.4 percent, Texas A&M 15.9 percent, Florida 12.6 percent, Auburn 1.2 percent, Georgia <1 percent.

    Additionally, according to Sports Illustrated’s Matt Ray on Wednesday, “Mitchell plans to see Tennessee next month for the Vols Memorial Day weekend recruiting event, along with [five-star Tennessee quarterback commit Nico] Iamaleava.”

    Ric Butler is a Knoxville based sports media personality who has covered University of Tennessee athletics since 2017. Most recently, he served as the lead writer for the website of a local radio station. Ric also helped create and host a daily radio show called “The Blitz." Ric’s passion for sports, smooth vocal, and infectious personality have made him popular with both his peers and Vol Nation. Originally from Dallas, Ric didn’t grow up riding horses to school. But he did dream of the big city lights. When not chasing down the latest Tennessee story, Ric can be found watching the WWE, often attempting their moves in an embarrassing fashion.