Kilgore High School
NR: 23 SR: 31 Star Rating: ***
An Inside Texas conversation with Kilgore head coach Mike Vallery on Britt Mitchell:
IT: What are Britts strengths as a football player?
Vallery: I think the biggest thing about Britt besides his physical stature of being about 6-5, 250-255 right now, I think they project him to be the 6-6 type guy, 270-280, that everybody looks for in what we call a true tight end. And the thing that Britt Mitchell brings to the table, I've been doing this high school coaching for 32 years, he's probably as good a blocker and a blocking tight end as you'll want to find. That was obvious to all the head coaches across the country. As soon as they looked at any clips of him on tape they could see he has that natural ability to come off there and be able to finish a block. When you get a high school player who can stay once he gets in control of a block, and stays with a block and be able to finish a block, he's as good in high school as I've seen doing that and it was a no-brainer when people would look at the tape on him and say, Hey, we'll offer him thinking he can he a great tight end at the next level.
IT: Does it take a certain mentality to finish those blocks?
Vallery: I think that is something that is an acquired skill and a taught skill but still at the same time that's a knack that you have to have and he has that knack because you don't run on many of them that have that. And you try to teach that but you can't get it taught to every kid and it's natural for him right now, especially at the high school level. And you know people at the level above us, at the collegiate level, you know when they see that, they say that that's things that usually take later on to come out of a young man and he's able to do those things right now. He is able to finish a block, control a block and does a great job of it. I think that is one of the things that they looked at. And his pass-catching skills, you look at what we do offensively, we're a one-back, like to do a lot of two tights and our tight end, we throw the football some to him but not a lot. Stat-wise, he doesn't have a lot of stats as a receiver, but to me, and I've said this for the last two years, he's that prototype that you see in the NFL where they hit those big tight ends and pick up first downs. He's that type guy.
IT: He was one of the first guys to get a Texas offer, and one of the first commitments, so Texas obviously really liked him early on. What did the UT coaches see in him so early?
Vallery: As soon as Coach Rucker came in here, when coach Rucker was hired on the staff down there, he came in and as soon as he looked at him and saw him on tape, they came in and made an offer. He was offered last spring, and he was offered by a lot of people. But right off the bat when him and his family made a visit, they loved it at The University of Texas. When you are The University of Texas and you're a kid here from Texas, they fell in love with it, which a kid should do that. And it was obvious, he made a firm commitment last spring and he held to that, didn't even want to talk to anybody else, said, I'm sure this is what I want to do, and I want to go be a Texas Longhorn and he and his family are excited about it.
IT: How do you see Britt fitting in to UT's offensive system?
Vallery: I think you look at a kid like him and naturally watch Texas play this year and see a kid like David Thomas, who I think was a great tight end who did a great job for Texas, and you look at a kid like Britt Mitchell and I'm not saying be a Thomas, but he's a kid that has the potential to make them another great tight end. I think the biggest thing he will do is get into a program where the tight end has more opportunity to make catches. Here, we were more a run-based football team with play-action passes off of it and he did a good job of catching the football, but we just don't throw a lot to our tight ends. But at the same time, he's got great hands and the ability that he's going to be what you're looking for at that next level, being able to line up at tight end, being able to block, being able to get off (the line) in pass routes and catch the football, so I believe he has all the tools to be a great one at the next level.
IT: You mentioned David Thomas, who is moving on, so there is some opportunity to potentially play early on. Do you see Britt as a guy that is ready to step up at the next level, not necessarily as a starter, but as an early contributor?
Vallery: I think Britt is a guy that can come in and contribute for you early, and I'm not saying anything about anybody because I'm not sure who else Texas has got there and I'm sure they've got some great football players there or they wouldn't be at The University of Texas, but he is a guy if they need him to he can come in and contribute early.
IT: Did he play anywhere else for you guys aside from tight end?
Vallery: No. Strictly played tight end for us.
IT: He's had a singular focus over the last few years...
Vallery: At tight end. Like I said, anybody that's played against him, anybody that looks at tape, they see how he comes off the football and blocks people. He's one of the best around that does that and it's easy to see.
IT: Talk about Britt's injury last summer.
Vallery: This past summer, July 4th, he was in a car accident and he fractured some vertebrae in his back and he was released and came back playing from our fourth ball game on, so he just missed the first three ball games. After that, he played the rest of the season all the way through the playoffs. He was a kid that when he was being held out and the doctors hadn't released him yet, he was doing everything the doctors told him to rehab to be ready so that the day that he was released, he could step on field and go. He was on the field working every day but doing no contact and doing just what the doctors told him to do. You take a kid like him that had played the year before on a 16-0 state championship team, all we had to do was have him physically ready and released by the doctors and he was ready to go.
IT: And no ill effects?
Vallery: No ill effects at all.
IT: What are his current measurables?
Vallery: He's 6-5, probably 250-255 right now.
IT: He looks very solid.
Vallery: He's a kid, when he gets down there on the strength program, I foresee him two years down the road being that 6-6, 275-280-pound tight end that everyone in the country likes and that's what he's going to be.
IT: Is he a big weight room guy?
Vallery: Ya know, young guys, when they're freshman and sophomores, they don't know the importance of the weight room but he's a young man that has -- I tell you what, I think one of the biggest things that changed his attitude towards the weight room is like after his sophomore year when he went and visited a university and saw the size and strength of the young men playing at the next level, that's when he came back and said, Coach, I see what y'all are trying to tell me and I know what I've got to do. And that sold him on that weight room and yes, he's been religiously in the weight room doing the things he needs to do to get ready for that next level.
IT: What's he working on right now?
Vallery: Right now, he shows up every day and goes through his weight workout program and he'll go outside on his own with some ex-quarterbacks of ours and run some routes. I really think watching the national championship game and him seeing David Thomas at tight end catching all those passes, nobody's had to tell him. He's been out back with the ex-quarterbacks running routes and catching the football because he knows that's a big part of the game also.
IT: Was Britt a leader for you guys, and if so, how did he lead?
Vallery: Britt's a leader and not by talking. Britt's a leader by his action because all the kids respect what he does on the field. Ya know, Britt's a guy that you could see back when he was a sophomore, when you're doing one-on-one drills, contact drills out there on the practice field, Britt never likes to get beat. He was one of those kids when he was a sophomore, if you lined him up one-on-one and he got beat in that situation, unlike a lot of other high school kids, he bounces back up there and says, Let's go again, because he does not like getting beat in anything he does. I think the other kids see that, and that's leadership qualities right there, and they learn that getting beat is not accepted and that's the way Britt is. He's got a lot of pride in what he does and whatever he's doing, if it's lined up against somebody else, he wants to win that battle. That in itself makes him a leader without talking, but a leader by his actions.
IT: What did Britt mean to your football program?
Vallery: Britt being a senior on this football team -- we had a great group of seniors -- it's just like all the players on the team when Britt was out, they tell me that it was a big letdown when they knew we were going to have start off the season without him. But the players said, Coach, we're going to be alright, we're gonna be alright, and then when Britt gets back, we'll go from there. But having Britt on this football team was a big part of us being successful. These kids that are on this football team, like Britt Mitchell and these seniors, they've had a heckuva high school career. They've been 39-4 over their three years playing varsity football here, so yeah, he means a lot to this football team, and that group of seniors means a lot, and we're going to miss them when they're not here.
IT: Is there a defining moment for you that exemplifies Britt's ability as a football player?
Vallery: I always go back to the playoff games last year, knowing how he stays with a block and finishes off a block, and I can remember especially in the LaMarque game down at College Station when we were playing last year, he's driving one of the defensive ends off the field and into me on the sideline. He never stops. He stays after a block. Most high school officials are not used to high school kids blocking that way and it always worried me them not being used to it that they were gonna flag him for being overly aggressive because they're not used to seeing high school kids block that way. That's the thing that will always stand out to me.
IT: Is it a play-to-the-whistle mentality?
Vallery: Oh yes, he'll play till the whistle and he'll drive that block till the whistle and till he puts it away.
IT: Is there anything you'd like to add about Britt that we didn't already cover?
Vallery: The biggest thing is he's a great young man. He's been raised well by his family, his mother and his father and his grandmother here and I think he's the type of kid that I see that will go to The University of Texas and be a success because not only because of his athletic ability but he fits in at The University of Texas of being a great kid that knows how to carry on his business that will be a plus for them down there that will be able to represent The University of Texas the way they want to be represented.
UT's Signing Day bio: A two-time honorable mention all-state selection by The Associated Press and the Texas Sports Writers Association
a physical tight end who was considered to be a sixth lineman by his high school coaches
a four-year letterman who helped his team to a 39-4 record over his final three seasons including a state championship in 2004
made 16 receptions for 181 yards over his final two seasons in Kilgore's run-oriented offense
selected to the 2005 Dave Campbell's Super Team prior to his senior year
blocked for an 1,800-yard running back as a senior, a 2,800-yard back as a junior and two 1,000-yard rushers as a sophomore
recorded 80 knockdowns and graded out at 96 percent as a senior
also competed in basketball and track and field
was a four-year letterman in track and field and made regionals in the discus
had a personal best toss of 152-0
a prep honor roll student who was an AP student at Kilgore
was involved in Adopt-A-Highway, Habitat for Humanity and Meals on Wheels
enjoys being outdoors
grandfather, Vernon Mitchell, played football at UTEP from 1955-56
full name is Britt Parker Mitchell
born on July 20, 1988 in Longview, Texas.
"The coaching staff and the family-based atmosphere stood out to me. Texas makes you really feel like you're a part of something. They make you feel comfortable."
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All photos: Will Gallagher/Inside Texas