Re-al Mitchell talks about his role in Iowa State’s quarterback room
Tommy Birch, firstname.lastname@example.org
AMES, Ia. — The easiest thing to do after Re-al Mitchell’s freshman season would have been to transfer.
Most would have, after Mitchell had to sit, wait and watch as another quarterback in his class took over the reins as Iowa State’s starter and guided them to a great season.
Not Mitchell, though.
“Honestly, I just trust God’s plan for my life and whatnot,” Mitchell said. “Just trying to better myself so I can better the team really. Just trying to stay consistent in my daily life and whatnot and, ultimately, I’ll be a better teammate that way.”
Things haven’t gone perfectly to plan for Mitchell so far.
The young quarterback tried to put himself in prime position for playing time right away by graduating high school early and enrolling at Iowa State. He was on campus for the spring last season and dazzled Iowa State coaches with his dynamic speed.
But while Mitchell was on campus, the Cyclones secured a commitment from another quarterback: Brock Purdy.
Purdy, who didn’t commit to the Cyclones until February, didn’t arrive on campus until the summer. That didn’t matter, though. When Iowa State starting quarterback Kyle Kempt got hurt and backup Zeb Noland struggled, Purdy was thrust into the spotlight and shined.
While Purdy was locking up the starting spot, possibly for years to come, Mitchell was quietly waiting to even get on the field.
“I stayed ready so I didn’t have to get ready type of thing,” Mitchell said. “Every game you’ve got to have that mindset that you’re going to play. And that’s how I approached it.”
But Mitchell didn’t play until Iowa State’s final game of the season in the Alamo Bowl. He lined up at wide receiver.
Waiting until the final game of the season to finally play another position didn’t bother Mitchell.
“Everything happens for a reason,” Mitchell said. “So I was fortunate to get in there.”
Mitchell was close to getting in games before that. Iowa State even had a specially designed package to utilize his speed. It was called “Blaze.” The name was a nod to Mitchell’s mom, who was known as “Blaze” on “American Gladiators.”
“It was fast,” Mitchell said of the package. “A lot of fast people onto the field at the same time and trying to really implement our speed into our offense.”
That may be Mitchell’s best shot at getting on the field right now.
Purdy in still firmly secured at the top of Iowa State’s depth chart as the starting quarterback. But if something happens to Purdy, Iowa State quarterbacks coach Joel Gordon said Mitchell is next in line.
“He’s working really hard and I think he’s getting better every single day,” Gordon said. “That makes us feel better and better that he’s learning and he’s doing a nice job of executing.
“He knows right now if we had to play a game tomorrow, he’s one snap away form being out there,” Gordon said. “He’s built some confidence where not only we would feel better about it, I think he would feel better about having that opportunity if his number were called.”
Even though Purdy is standing in the way of Mitchell getting on the field, the two have a good relationship. Mitchell said they play off each other and have both learned plenty from each other. Purdy’s even been impressed with how far Mitchell has come this spring.
“Re’al’s been great,” Purdy said. “The past couple of weeks, he’s picking up on the reads and the offense with (offensive coordinator Tom) Manning and everything.”
Mitchell is hoping the hard work pays off.
And even though the Cyclones don’t have a spot for him on the field, Mitchell said they haven’t spoken to him about changing positions. So speed packages may be his calling card for now.
That seems like it’s fine to him.
“I’m staying patient and trying to be the best player I can be,” Mitchell said.
Source: Des Moines Register