Brant Mitchell’s dream has substance, if not glamor. Regardless, the Georgia Tech freshman linebacker is in the right place to achieve it.
“Ever since the seventh grade, I told myself that what I was going to try to go to college and play football to pay for my education to become an engineer,” Mitchell said. “I’ve just tried to stick to my plan with a lot of prayer and a lot of hard work after that. It’s happened. I’m going to try my best to fulfill my dream of becoming an engineer.”
Mitchell, who graduated from the highly competitive Webb School in Knoxville, Tenn., with a 3.75 GPA, is one of a handful of Tech freshmen who are aspiring engineers. He describes himself as a “math and science guy” and has fond memories of spending time tinkering in his grandfather’s workshop.
“We’ve come up with a lot of crazy stuff,” Mitchell said.
Mitchell brings similarly heavy credentials and high aspirations on the football side. He was named a two-time state lineman of the year for Division II-A (small-school classification for private schools) and led Webb to three state titles. He’ll have a jump to make from the small private school level, but he is eager to enter the competition at middle linebacker, where even before Anthony Harrell’s suspension and transfer, there was going to be a challenge for playing time.
“I know that they’re looking for a middle linebacker to step up and take the job, and I know that the depth chart isn’t as strong as they would like it to be,” Mitchell said, speaking prior to Harrell’s departure. “Knowing that, I’m going to try my best to go in there and try to prove myself that I can get some playing time, if not a starting position.”
Mitchell has two classmates he’ll be competing with, Victor Alexander and Danny Cooksey, along with returnee Beau Hankins. At 6-foot-2 and 240 pounds, he is the heaviest linebacker on the roster. He is also athletic and savvy enough to have intercepted eight passes as a senior. Special teams is another route to playing time this fall.
“I’m just glad to be there,” Mitchell said. “It’s such an opportunity.”
Mitchell was pursued by Tennessee, among others, and chose Tech over Auburn, which was interested in playing him at fullback. The big differentiator with Tech?
“It was the academics, honestly,” Mitchell said. “That’s the reason you go to college, is to get a good education. So, looking at it like this, you want to provide yourself with the best opportunity to be successful 50 years down the road, not just four.”
Mitchell’s strong interest in his studies, his preparedness for Tech’s academic rigor and his understanding of the value of a Tech degree sync with the recruiting approach that coach Paul Johnson has often spoken about, and his desire to find kids who want what Tech has to offer.
“It’s just the best fit for me,” Mitchell said. “The more time I spent at Tech, the more I enjoyed it.”
1. Among the most significant projects Mitchell worked on with his grandfather was his assignment to come up with a Rube Goldberg machine for his physics class. Mitchell created a contraption that could strum a banjo, powered by the motor of a remote-control car.
“I won the cash prize,” Mitchell said. “I got $75 out of it.”
2. One thing he knew he’d bring with him to campus: his guitar. (He also plays the banjo.) He favors country music, mostly.
“I’ve told one of (my roommates) about it,” he said. “But I don’t know if the other two (know).”
3. Mitchell’s primary recruiter was offensive line coach Mike Sewak. “He’s awesome,” Mitchell said. “He’s just laidback. He’s a great guy.”
4. Mitchell has been assigned jersey No. 51. It was worn last season by kicker Andrew Chau.
5. Mitchell also played fullback in high school, rushed for 777 yards with 12 touchdowns. He also did the punting for Webb.
New in ’15
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.