That said, the first read might even have a nervous-nelly DawgNation recruiting reader (Cough: DawgNation Daily) wondering if the Bulldogs were slotted in at No. 12 on the top 12 list that Mitchell dropped earlier this month.
It came up while Mitchell described all the schools he was set to visit once the Rip Van Winkle NCAA dead period is finally pushing up daisies on the recruiting trail.
“Florida State,” he started off. “Florida. Who else? LSU. Auburn. Michigan. Texas. USC and Ohio State. For sure those schools.”
He did not mention UGA.
“I could give people the tour myself at Georgia,” he said. “I’ve been to UGA like five times. I know it pretty well all over there. I will go up there again. I just want to go to all the schools I haven’t been to first and then I’ll go back to Georgia.”
Georgia 2023 TE commit Pearce Spurlin III has identified Mitchell as a “for sure priority” for the 2023 class. Those two went to an FBU camp together when they were in the seventh grade.
Mitchell also brought up Spurlin in regard to UGA.
“He and I talk every single day,” Mitchell said. “He’s like a brother to me. Just a great friend of mine. We plan on teaming up together in college, too. He’s been trying to get me to come to UGA for the longest.”
“He’s big on me like Georgia. He’s been recruiting me hard.”
Who recruits him harder? The UGA staff? Kirby Smart? Or Pearce?
“It is probably Pearce,” he said while laughing.
Spurlin is “all up in his ear” here.
“He’s the number one corner in the country,” Spurlin said. “Georgia always goes hard after the top corner in the country. For sure. I talk to Tony literally every day. He and I are really close. That would be a big big deal if we got Tony. That’s my boy.”
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Tony Mitchell said that UGA was the last school he visited for a “Junior Day” prior to the global pandemic. (Tony Mitchell/Courtesy photo)
Tony Mitchell: Talking up that top 12
Mitchell had 82 tackles, four interceptions and two touchdowns in 2020. He ranks as the nation’s No. 1 cornerback for 2023 on the 247Sports Composite ratings. That slots him as the nation’s No. 19 overall prospect for that cycle.
He made a pivotal pick in the Alabama 7A state championship game which set the stage for the brilliant miracle comeback finish to take place.
Check out his impressive junior year reel below.
He hasn’t visited a school in over a year. He’s still just in March of his sophomore year, but the future early enrollee was ready to come up with that top 12.
“Those 12 schools I just had the best relationships with those coaches and those staffs,” he said. “Those are the schools that have the best shot at landing me. I don’t want to waste any other coach’s time on me. Because I know I’m not going to any other school except one of those in that 12. I just wanted to focus on those 12 that I have been talking to the most out of anybody.”
His first offer came from Florida Atlantic. The most recent offer from that favored dozen was Ohio State.
He’s in Alabama. The Tide and Tigers are definitely courting him heavily. What will be the tug like from those schools and his community to stay in The Yellowhammer State?
“It wouldn’t be hard for me at all to leave Alabama,” he said. “I have got no pressure on me about not leaving Alabama. I am not really a ‘Bama fan. I haven’t stayed here that long.”
Mitchell grew up in South Florida in the Lakeland area. He grew up a fan of the Oregon Ducks and then later on started liking Clemson.
“Oregon was the first dream school of mine,” he said.
That was then. Not now. What are his new dreams for the ideal college fit?
“They have got to be home,” he said. “Just the fans, the coaches and the environment. They have got to show a lot of love. I have to have a great relationship with the coaches. My family and I have to like it a lot and I want to play right away. That’s another major thing for me.”
The global pandemic put a muzzle on his process.
“It kind of blew me up especially when it first happened,” he said. “That same weekend I was supposed to be visiting LSU and I feel like if we had all these visits from then to now, I’d be able to determine my decision quicker. But I haven’t visited any campuses for real. So it is going to be a minute before I make that final decision.”
“If we would have had visits, my list would probably have been shorter than a top 12. I just haven’t been to all these schools yet. I just haven’t really been everywhere yet for real.”
He thinks it would have been at least a top 8 by now. As it turns out, the last school he visited was Georgia. It was a “Junior Day” in February.
Has he ever gotten to the point where he thinks he has zeroed in on his favorite school?
“Yes, sir,” he said. “It has still remained the same. I still like other schools, but I just have that gut feeling like this is my school right here. But I still just want to wait things out. Play it safe. I just want to make sure that it is my “for sure for sure” school and make sure I am making the right decision.”
Mitchell has a good reason for that stance.
“You see all these coaches leaving and stuff and I just don’t want to make my decision too quick,” he said. “Because coaches can up and leave in a heartbeat.”
He doesn’t have a set timeline in mind.
“Whenever I feel like it is right and the right time I am just going to put it out there,” Mitchell said.
Tony Mitchell released his top 12 schools earlier this month. (Tony Mitchell/Instagram)
Tony Mitchell: The other really intriguing stuff here about UGA
Mitchell’s body has changed a lot from his last big game visit to Georgia. It is safe to say that trip has stuck with him.
“That game was so lit,” he said. “Just the fans. Just the lights. Like pregame, it was just live. They were just showing so much love at UGA. I’ve been talking to Kirby [Smart] and coach [Glenn] Schumann and all of those guys since my eighth-grade summer going into my freshman year. So I’m very familiar with the staff.”
“They love me there. They really want me at UGA and they show major love. But the game was lit. Definitely got to get back to Athens for another game when we can.”
He’s already spoken to new defensive backs coach Jahmile Addae.
“I talked to him two weeks ago,” Mitchell said. “We caught up on everything and are starting to build that real relationship now. They really want me there, man. He was just saying that I am ‘on top of their board’ and ‘a great player’ and he just wants to pull me out of the state of Alabama like everybody else has been saying. But I don’t have any ties to ‘Bama or anything.”
Tony Mitchell still has “lit” memories of the Notre Dame game in 2019. It looks like he is six years older than the young man in this gameday pic. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)
What’s the best thing he likes about Georgia?
“Just Athens and the school,” he said. “It just feels great. I could definitely call a place like that home. The fans, man. The coaches. Man, the recruiting coordinators at Georgia. The Directors of Player Personnel at Georgia. They all show love. It is like a family there.”
Mitchell said Alabama, Clemson, Georgia, Florida, Florida State, LSU, Michigan and Southern Cal are all nailing that “family” aspect of his recruiting right now.
The reality of that “coaching is a business” part is not lost on Mitchell. Georgia even provided a clear example.
“Like coach [Charlton] Warren at UGA the day before he took the [defensive coordinator] job at Indiana he was telling me how much they wanted me at UGA and he wanted me to commit there and play for him and stuff,” Mitchell said. “He was like ‘When are you going to become a ‘Dawg?’ and the next day he takes the DC job at Indiana. I was like ‘Dang’ that was quick.”
The relationship there was strong. They would find a way to communicate with one another every other week.
“He and I have been talking since my eighth-grade summer,” Mitchell said. “We both got to know the fam and things like that.”
Tony Mitchell ranks as the nation’s No. 1 cornerback prospect for 2023 and at No. 19 overall on the 247Sports Composite rankings. (Tony Mitchell/Instagram)
Tony Mitchell: A few other tidbits to know here
He loves locking up the No. 1 receiver for a quality opponent. He has a clear description of the mindset in the way he plays the game.
“Savage and beast,” he said. “I don’t have any limits. I am going to go hard every play. Very physical. Be the most aggressive DB out there.”
Mitchell said the No. 3 jersey is his favorite.
“That number three is just my favorite number,” he said. “I feel like if you are a DB, then you have to wear the number three. That’s just the swag.”
If he sounds dialed in, he is.
“I know I want to major in business,” he said. “For sure. I know I will have to have a life after football and I don’t want to work for anybody after football. I want to run my own companies and my own stuff.”
Peter Woods, the third major recruiting target for UGA on the Thompson team, is also in the Class of 2023. Woods is the nation’s No. 2 overall prospect on the 247Sports Composite for that cycle.
“Peter is a great player,” Mitchell said. “I feel like he is the best overall player in our class. He really is dominant. Different. He’s so strong and to be so young. I feel like he is going to be one of the all-time greats.”
It is always an unsure topic, but those two have long planned on playing together in college.
“We have always been planning on it,” Mitchell said. “We’ve always said that we’d got to the same school. We have just got to make sure we keep our heads straight and keep the same school in mind. We pretty much have got the same schools we like, though. We are going to see.”
Mitchell says the odds are better for those two to play together than a third Thompson Warrior on the same college squad. He feels it will be difficult to add 5-star 2022 DE, Jeremiah Alexander, into that complicated equation.
“It will be hard with Jeremiah,” Mitchell said. “He doesn’t really like the same schools we like as much. So it is a higher probability of Peter and I playing together instead of all of us three. Peter and I have always talked about being that Chase Young and Jeffrey Okudah duo together in college.”
Tony Mitchell brought up an interesting piece of information regarding him and his fellow 5-star in the 2023 class at Thompson High School. (Tony Mitchell/Courtesy photo)
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