osirus mitchell: Path to the NFL DRaft
Following the most disrupted college football season in recent history, you could understand players taking the opportunity to go back around again. Mississippi State wide receiver Osirus Mitchell knows entering the 2021 NFL Draft is a gamble. However, the physical pass catcher is playing with house money, and he likes the odds.
“Honestly, I’m just betting on myself in the whole process. I could have came back to school in this Mike Leach offense, probably put up way better numbers. At the end of the day, the scouts know what I can do. I just feel like it’s time for me to go out here and prove it to these coaches. I know what I can do and once I get on an NFL team, the sky’s going to be the limit.”
Breakout High School Senior Year Makes Football The Focus
Osirus Mitchell is training for the 2021 NFL Draft in Minneapolis, a long way from the Mississippi State campus that has been home for the past five years. It’s even further north of Sarasota, Florida where his football journey began and his love of football developed as a safe space away from the day-to-day frustrations of growing up.
“When I was about eight years old, just releasing my energy and anger out at little stuff like getting in trouble at school and getting punished. I just love football. It was my safe space getting rid of everything I was going through outside of football.”
Although he would go on to be a physical and productive high school wide receiver at Booker High School, Osirus Mitchell lists Richard Sherman as one of his early football inspirations. If it wasn’t for a coach at Booker giving him a gentle push toward the offense, he could have been entering the 2021 NFL Draft as a cornerback. There is also the chance that he would never have made it this far at all.
“It’s weird because I was a basketball player. Of course, I’m 6’5” and the first thing people think when they see me is that I’m gonna play basketball. I was serious about basketball and I thought I was going to go to college to play. At the start of my senior year was when I started blowing up. Basically, my senior year of high school was when I knew I was going to play college football. All the college coaches that offered a scholarship loved my senior film. If it wasn’t for me playing that way, I don’t think I would have been playing college football. It was everything.”
In that senior year Osirus Mitchell racked up 900 receiving yards and 17 touchdowns. An impressive 21.7 yards per catch gives an idea of the deep threat that the imposing wide receiver brings to the football field. It was helped by one play that stands out from his time at Booker.
“It was a team called Port Charlotte. They were supposed to beat us. We were the underdogs by like 35 points. I took a bubble screen like 85 yards for a touchdown and we ended up winning the game.”
Playing football in the state of Florida prepared Osirus Mitchell nicely for the next stage in his path to the NFL Draft. The state is renowned for producing athletic, skilled, football players and it provided the young wide receiver with a competitive proving ground.
“The competition, week in and week out, is amazing. Everybody is fast in Florida, and physical. I miss it. I feel like that was the funnest football. Good competition, Division I players every week.”
Starkville: 'A Home Away From Home'
Despite impressing and attracting attention as a senior, the recruitment process wasn’t straight forward for Osirus Mitchell. A three star recruit, he was the 160th ranked player in Florida, and the 169th ranked wide receiver nationally. However, there was an even bigger stumbling block to hurdle. It was one that ultimately would ingrain a work ethic that will prove invaluable as he heads to the 2021 NFL Draft.
“On signing day I had one offer. I had a lot of coaches talking to me from big time schools but my grades, that’s another thing man. I was always so frustrated in high school that I could never do my work, so I had horrible grades. So, I wasn’t NCAA academically eligible for any school in the country. After signing day I was working every day for the next few months doing extra classes. Literally doing work 10 hours a day. I ended up getting my grades up. In May I ended up getting calls every day, blowing my phone up, from all the schools that had wanted to offer me but couldn’t.”
Of the coaches that came calling, two schools stood out above the rest. He’s training in Minneapolis right now and could have been suiting up for the Minnesota Golden Gophers. However, he would commit to the Mississippi State Bulldogs prior to the start of the 2016 college football season.
“Man, Mississippi State. That name to me was just how I was brought up. Hard working, humble, hard-nosed, and very family orientated. The first day on campus they just embrace you like you’ve been there your whole life. It’s just one big family. I knew I was going to be far from home so I wanted to be with a team that felt like it was a home away from home.”
Hard Work Pays Off
Arriving on campus late in 2016, Osirus Mitchell was eased into the college football experience. Despite being a productive and physical high receiver, he would need to develop both physically and technically to match up to the more demanding college game. As a result, he took a redshirt year.
“Honestly, I know for a lot of people it was a big deal. But for me, when I was getting recruited my coaches were straight up and honest with me. They were like I was undersized – 160-170 pounds coming in – so they were telling me I would more than likely take a redshirt. I figured I was going to do that just to develop more because I was a late bloomer. I’m glad I had that year of experience being on the scout team. It got me stronger, faster, and ready for the game.”
Osirus Mitchell made his Mississippi State debut in 2017.
“I was definitely nervous as heck! I feel like I was nervous the whole time! At the end of the game, back in my room, it was just the relief of how far I’d come in my life. I just had to embrace the moment.”
Team First Attitude & Mississippi Bragging Rights
The next great moment to embrace was his first college touchdown. Just like buses, Osirus Mitchell had waited almost two years for one and then two came at once against Stephen F. Austin.
“We started off the season with a great bang. I was very excited for that season. I felt like it was long overdue as I’d worked had and I was happy that I did it but I wasn’t satisfied or nothing, I was still hungry for me. Those few touchdowns and that little bit of success made me hungry for more.”
Although further success would come in terms of leading the team in receptions in 2018 and then receiving yards and touchdowns in 2019, as a wide receiver trapped in a run first offense, personal success and national recognition was hard to come by.
“Man that was by far one of the most frustrating times of my life. Every year though, for two years, we’d been running predominantly as an offense. I led the team but I only had like under 30 catches. It was crazy but I can’t really complain about the situation, I just had to make the most out of it. I just tried to catch everything that came my way, make every play, because I knew the opportunities would be limited in that offense.”
One of the opportunities that comes the way of any Mississippi State player is the rivalry game with Ole Miss. Although his opinion may be swayed by his three appearances in it, there’s no doubt in Osirus Mitchell’s mind that the Egg Bowl is one of the most intense rivalries in all of college football.
“It’s literally a war. The fans are crazy, the players are definitely crazy. They’ll try and hurt you during the play, after the play. It’s just like a fight basically. I’m not even from Mississippi but I take that rivalry game personally. I think by far it’s the best rivalry in college football as far as the intensity goes.”
Torching The National Champions
Having been mired in a run-first offense during his first two playing years at Mississippi State, the 2020 college football season sprung new hope for Osirus Mitchell in his senior season. With Mike Leach bringing his “air-raid” offense to Starkville, the wide receiver would have an incredible opportunity to improve his 2021 NFL Draft stock.
“For me personally, I was very excited. All the outsiders that I knew, they were all telling me I should leave because that type of system won’t work in the SEC. I was happy about it, but a lot of people wanted me to leave my senior year. I was excited for it.”
In the first game of the Mike Leach era against LSU, the excitement that Osirus Mitchell had prior to the season appeared to be well placed. The senior wide receiver racked up 183 receiving yards and 2 touchdowns as the Bulldogs savaged the defending National Champions.
“That was probably the best games of my life! Just the fact that everybody talked down on the offense and then we did that to the defending National Champions. But, I feel like the success came from the defense they were playing. They played man to man, and you can’t play man to man against Mike Leach’s offense because there’s just too many moving parts. They didn’t have no answers for us.”
Final Year Adversity
Unfortunately, the LSU game was as good as it got in 2020. In his senior season with the Bulldogs, Osirus Mitchell achieved his career high receiving yards. Ultimately, however, the year fell short of his own expectations.
“For me personally, I was very disappointed in the season. But, I can’t really blame the team or just me personally. We didn’t have an off-season due to COVID. We had a new coach, a new quarterback, a new system with no off-season, no spring football. So we were going into things not knowing what to expect. We were going against 8 dropping defenders and 3 rushing defensive linemen and that’s something you have to practice for a lot. I was upset but then again we couldn’t really control it.”
Although the season hadn’t worked out quite the way he’d hoped, and with the NCAA allowing players the opportunity to return for an extra season of eligibility, Mississippi State wide receiver Osirus Mitchell declared for the 2021 NFL Draft at the end of the season.
An Unprecedented Pre-Draft Process
If last year’s process was mildly disrupted, this year has an even greater set of challenges for prospects hoping to hear their name called at the annual selection event. A number of All-Star games fell casualty to the pandemic. The NFL Combine won’t be held in anything remotely resembling its usual format. Individual workouts and face-to-face meetings won’t be possible.
It represents a gargantuan hurdle for the large majority of 2021 NFL Draft prospects.
“Man, it’s going to be extremely difficult. I feel like if I knew that there wasn’t going to be a combine or no scouts could be at Pro-Day like they’re saying there might not be, I probably would have stayed in school. I know it’s going to be a lot harder this year because a lot of teams can’t see players in person this year, so they’re basically going to go off of film. That’s hard just picking people you haven’t seen in person. I just pray everyday that the process goes smoothly with all the scouts at Pro-Days.”
Although it’s not the same, teams are allowed to conduct video interviews with prospect and Osirus Mitchell has already some of those meetings. Although he tells me he can’t divulge who those teams are, he does say that he has had contact with six teams so far. Outside of the film they can watch, what does he tell them as a reason they should use a draft pick on Osirus Mitchell?
“I’m gonna be the same guy every day. I’m going to come to practice, not with the feeling that I don’t want to do something, but work hard every day and get better everyday.”
The NFL: 'A Dream Come True'
During his college career, Osirus Mitchell has demonstrated that he can be a physical, imposing, vertical threat in the passing game. When I ask him to sum up his game in three words he says simply “fast, physical, aggressive” while acknowledging that he needs to work to improve his perimeter blocking. Is there a game that highlights what he is all about on the field?
“2018, Texas A&M. They were ranked liked five, we came into the game as a huge underdog. I think I had 99 yards, 8 catches, 99 yards, and a touchdown. All the catches I made were highlight catches. I was physical blocking that game and we got the W. I feel like that was the best game I had in my career.”
He may have been a late bloomer at high school, but Mississippi State wide receiver Osirus Mitchell is just over two months away from realizing his dream at the 2021 NFL Draft.
“It would probably be the best thing that had happened to me, by far, in my life so far. Just due to the fact that my whole life has been football, football, football, and to hear my name called would be a dream come true and all my hard work would be starting to pay off.”
He finished up with a line that demonstrates the work ethic that has gotten this far and will continue to get him far at the next level.
“I’m not gonna say pay off as I know I’ve still got a lot of work left to do.”
OLIVER HODGKINSON IS A COLLEGE FOOTBALL WRITER FOR THE TOUCHDOWN. HE ALSO WRITES ON THE NFL FOR THE PRO FOOTBALL NETWORK. YOU CAN HEAR HIS OPINIONS ON ALL THINGS COLLEGE FOOTBALL AS ONE THIRD OF THE COLLEGE CHAPS PODCAST.
Huge thanks to Osirus Mitchell for taking the time to speak to us.