VIDEO: Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame’s Mel Mitchell III Enjoyed Impressive Football Career
By Space Coast Daily // June 29, 2020
SPACE COAST SPORTS HALL OF FAME
ABOVE VIDEO: What has been most impressive about Mel Mitchell and his football career has been his penchant for big plays in big games. After graduating from Rockledge High School, Mitchell made his mark on collegiate and professional football.
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – After graduating from Rockledge High School, Mel Mitchell made his mark on collegiate and professional football.
What has been most impressive about Mitchell and his football career has been his penchant for big plays in big games.
It started at Rockledge High School where he earned All-State twice for the Raiders – first team as a senior and second-team as a junior.
He was the first athlete in Cape Coast Conference history to gain all-conference status on both offense and defense. But his big moment was catching the game-winning touchdown that powered Coach Chuck Wood’s Raiders to a triple-overtime victory over Vero Beach.
It has always been about hard work for Mitchell.
“From Little League to high school, to college, and finally, to playing at the highest level, the National Football League – I want to be remembered by my hard work and intensity. I pride myself on my work ethic,” said Mitchell.
His hard work paid off, as after graduating from Rockledge High School, Mitchell made his mark on collegiate football at Western Kentucky University where he started 36 games at cornerback or free safety and recorded 288 tackles.
He had seven career interceptions and also returned kickoffs.
During his first game as a starter, he had nine tackles and his first career interception.
A couple of weeks later, he was selected as the Ohio Valley Conference (OVC) Defensive Player of the Week after recording a season-best 11 tackles – two for losses – and a pass broken up in win over rival Murray State.
Later that season, he had 10 tackles against Eastern Illinois in the OVC Conference final. He earned Second Team All-OVC that year.
SIX YEAR NFL CAREER
The 2000 season was Mitchell’s best, garnering both all-American and All-OVC honors.
That season he had 10 tackles (seven unassisted), a fumble recovery and a blocked kick in a shutout of Elon, and recorded eight tackles (six unassisted) and returned a kickoff for a 90-yard touchdown to help lead the Toppers to a road win at Murray State.
He collected 16 tackles in an Indiana State win, and broke up two passes and had a career-high 17 tackles to lead the team in the NCAA playoff quarterfinals against Appalachian State. He ended the season with a career-best 98 tackles, 3 interceptions, 8 passes broken up and 3 blocked kicks.
Mitchell was selected 150th overall in the 5th round of the 2002 NFL draft by the New Orleans Saints and during his rookie season with the Saints, he played in all 16 games.
Unfortunately, he missed the entire next season due to a torn anterior cruciate ligament, which is often a career-ending injury. But not for Mitchell. Remember, he was dedicated to hard work.
“When I tore my ACL in 2002 I was put on injured reserve,” said Mitchell.
“At that moment I realized how much I missed the game of football. My rehabilitation team and I set a plan for recovery and I worked diligently to achieve my goal – which was to be back active on the football field producing for my team.”
He returned in 2004 and had his best year, making 23 tackles in 15 games. He ended his 6-year NFL career in 2007 with the New England Patriots.
As a teacher and inspiration to young people, Mitchell is still laser-focused on the importance of setting goals and committing hard work toward attaining those goals.
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