Hillsborough High School cornerback Terrence Mitchell recalled last year when teammate and cousin Lindsey Lamar signed his letter of intent to USF on National Signing Day.
Michell was in attendance during Lamar’s signing day ceremony, but at that time, he never once thought of following Lamar. He said he was all FSU.
“(Back then) I was probably thinking Florida State still,” Mitchell said. “I was happy for Lindsey when he signed with USF. “
But on Wednesday, it was Mitchell’s turn, joining 14 others who signed their letters of intent for coach Skip Holtz’s first recruiting class.
Lamar returned the happy feelings to Mitchell – the nation’s seventh-ranked cornerback by rivals.com – and said had he chosen FSU there would have been no hard feelings.
“I just told him how everything is at USF. When he made his decision to FSU, I was happy for him,” Lamar said. “I didn’t say anything after that. When he was starting to come onboard with USF, I was still telling him how it was.”
On Friday – five days before signing day – Mitchell was still committed to FSU, but he said there were no hard feelings towards the Seminoles, who lost long-time coach Bobby Bowden when he retired in January.
“Just me being comfortable at home and around my family,” Mitchell said of his decision to sign with USF. “Me knowing I’m right here at home, 10 minutes away from my ‘mama and daddy.'”
Mitchell, one of only two USF-signees from Hillsborough County, is expected to compete for playing time right away, Holtz said. Mitchell played safety in high school, but he was recruited to play cornerback.
“He’s the complete package,” Holtz said. “He’s athletic, fast and he’ll throw his body around. He’s not afraid of contact. You look at a lot of corners around that are allergic to leather; they’re afraid to go in and lower their shoulder.”
The Bulls graduated safety Nate Allen and cornerback Jerome Murphy – two secondary starters from last year’s squad.
“When you look at our secondary needs this year, that’s where you start,” Holtz said. “If you have a corner who can play man coverage, that enables you to do a lot more with your defense. That was one of the pressing needs in this recruiting class. We needed some numbers at safety and corner.”
Mitchell, who had offers from Tennessee, LSU, Georgia, Florida, and FSU, joins Thomasville, Ga., safety Reshard Cliett and DeLand safety Mark Joyce as secondary recruits.
The Bulls signed a total of eight defensive players, including defensive tackle Todd Chandler, a Miami native rated as the 20th best in the country at his position by rivals.com.
Chandler, who had offers from FSU, LSU, and Miami, joins Mitchell as USF’s only four-star commitments in the 2010 class.
Mitchell, the second-highest rated recruit to commit to USF, according to rivals.com, said the whole process was a dream come true: “I’m just blessed to go through all of this. I didn’t expect it at all. It was a real special day for me.”
Mitchell’s father, Frank, said the end result of a stressful process was “relief.”
“It was a lot of work for me, checking out the different coaches … I did more checking than he did,” he said.