Growing up, Steven Mitchell dreamed of being the next great running back from Southern California.
But during the summer heading into his sophomore year at Bishop Alemany (Mission Hills, Calif.), Mitchell was switched to wide receiver by his head coach, who believed Mitchell had the potential to be a star at the position.
Turned out to be a good decision.
Now a 5-foot-10, 177-pound junior, Mitchell is considered one of the nation’s top receivers and is an ESPNU 150 Watch List recruit. Mitchell currently holds offers from the likes of Washington, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Texas A&M and Cal.
Mitchell does most of his damage from the slot, where he uses his speed and route-running skills to burn past safeties and linebackers. This past season, he caught 50 passes for 1,006 yards and scored 17 total touchdowns.
But all Mitchell remembers from his junior season is how it ended. Bishop Alemany went undefeated in the tough Serra League but was upset by St. John Bosco (Bellflower, Calif.) in the first round of the CIF Southern Section Pac-5 Division playoffs.
Bosco featured senior receiver Bryce Treggs, a Cal recruit rated the nation’s No. 25 wideout in the Class of 2012 by ESPNU. Mitchell spoke to Treggs for the first time after the game and the two have since become friends, training together this offseason.
The work Mitchell has done with Treggs and his Bishop Alemany teammates this offseason has already paid big dividends. On April 1, he was named the wide receiver MVP and earned an invitation to The Opening while at the Los Angeles Nike Football Training Camp.
But Mitchell is far from satisfied with his accomplishments. Get Familiar with the converted running back to see what he’s got planned for this season.
ESPNHS: When did you first know you wanted to be a receiver?
Mitchell: All the way up to my sophomore year, I was a running back. I always wanted to be like Reggie Bush. I played running back my freshman year, and when they called me up to varsity my sophomore year, my coach told me I had receiver talent. I liked that when I caught the ball, I could make people look bad.
ESPNHS: How do you make up for your lack of prototypical size at the position?
Mitchell: With my agility and shiftiness. Most of the guys who cover me are safeties and outside linebackers. Whenever they see me, they underestimate me. It makes me play even harder and faster. People used to joke around about my size, but once I got on the football field, that joking stopped.
ESPNHS: How would you describe your performance at the LA NFTC, especially against such a loaded field of defensive backs?
Mitchell: The defensive backs were good, but I felt like I did a very good job. And when I go to The Opening, I feel like I have to show out again and prove myself. I feel like I have to prove myself whenever I step on the field. When I saw The Opening on TV last year, I told my dad I was going to work so hard to get to that camp. When I got the invitation, I was ecstatic.
ESPNHS: How motivated are you after last year’s first-round playoff loss?
Mitchell: We were pretty down. We all know we could have won that game. The day after the game, we decided we had to get it right. We have to play more as a team. This year, we’ve made a commitment to the team and we’re going to work hard throughout the year.
ESPNHS: What did you learn from watching Bryce Treggs in the loss to St. John Bosco?
Mitchell: He’s a great receiver. I just wanted to show we had great receivers in our class, too. I tried to play to the best of my potential — we just came up short. After the game was the first time we met. He said I was a very good athlete and he was going to follow me throughout my senior year. It was a good experience. I’ve trained with him since then. It helps me a lot. He’s a great router runner and I try to get all the teaching I can get.
ESPNHS: Who do you credit for getting you to this point?
Mitchell: I have to credit my parents for all they’ve done for me. They’ve supported me my entire life. They come to every practice and all of my games. It helps me a lot, because I know that not everybody has a mother and father to support them like do.
School: Bishop Alemany (Mission Hills, Calif.)
Position: Wide receiver
TV Show: “Martin”
Movie: “The Lion King”
Athlete: Reggie Bush
School Subject: Math
Pro Team: Pittsburgh Steelers
Food: Cabbage & cornbread