Billy Mitchell was offered by Army in April 2016.
But, Mitchell didn’t consider Army an option until he visited the campus three weeks ago.
To appease his parents, Mitchell, a kicker from American Heritage High in Delray Beach, Fla., agreed to take this visit.
People’s perceptions of West Point gave Mitchell a negative impression of the academy prior to his trip.
“To be quite honest, I didn’t consider it for the longest time,” Mitchell said. “I was just like, ‘I’m not going to Iraq.’ You hear a lot things about West Point from other people who just don’t know what they are talking about.
“(They say) you are going to march in the rain all day and then you go to practice. And you go there on the visit and you find out they only do the military stuff in the summer and there’s not that much of it. To some extent, it’s almost like a regular college during the school year. They don’t wake you up by blowing a bugle down the hall.”
Mitchell called Army coach Jeff Monken with his commitment Sunday night. He’s the second Florida kicker to commit to Army after signing day. The Black Knights have added Mitchell, a direct admit, and Jesuit’s Camden Bauman in an effort to bolster one of Army’s most disappointing units in 2016. Army kickers missed six of their 12 field-goal attempts and four extra points last season.
“I had such little information on it and I thought I knew what I was talking about but I really didn’t,” Mitchell said. “Then, you go there and you are like, ‘Wow, that’s not what I thought.’ It was just a lot of that the entire day. It was, ‘this is pretty nice, pretty nice stadium, nice locker room, this training room is awesome,’ and it had everything I would want as a kicker. I just took a 180 on what I thought about the school.”
Mitchell said once or twice during recruiting, he didn’t answer a call from an Army coach, because, ”’I just didn’t want to go to freaking Iraq.’” When his parents starting suggesting an Army visit, Mitchell tried calling Keith Gaither, his original recruiting coach. Gaither’s number was no longer in service because he had taken a job at Temple.
“I tell my dad (about the number) and he is talking to an old high school coach of mine and he said, ‘he tells me the number is not even in service, he doesn’t have to lie to me. He can just tell me he doesn’t want to call,’” Mitchell said. “The coach got us the right number and I talked to coach (Sean) Saturnio.”
Mitchell’s plans before the West Point visit were to either attend Florida or try walking on at Georgia.
“My No. 1 was the University of Florida,” said Mitchell, a first-team, all-state 3A punter as a junior. “To be honest, before the West Point visit, had they not been able to take me because of a numbers issue, they still would have been my No. 1 because that’s my dream school.
“West Point was just kind of like there and I would probably rather have walked on at Georgia than go to West Point. After taking the visit, I was like, “I’d definitely rather go to West Point,’ and in my head I just shut the door on possibly going to Georgia.”
Mitchell has a distant connection to a famous World War I pilot. Billy Mitchell, an Army general, was the cousin of Mitchell’s great grandfather.
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