MT. ANGEL — For much of his life, Bishop Mitchell has excelled on the small stages of football.
Playing football at 2A Kennedy High School, Mitchell has shredded defenses for huge yards and lots of touchdowns with his combination of blazing speed – a 4.4 second 40-yard dash time – strength, agility and ability to see the football field.
Now he’s going to a much larger stage.
The 5-foot-9, 180 pound senior running back signed a National Letter of Intent to play football at NCAA Division I Portland State in a ceremony in front of the Kennedy student body on National Signing Day Wednesday.
For an athlete – he’s a starter on Kennedy’s basketball team and a state runner-up in track and field – who keeps a low profile in most aspects of his life, getting in front of his school for a signing ceremony was foreign so he brought up his entire football team with him for the signing.
“It’s all new,” said Mitchell, the 2A offensive player of the year as a senior. “It’s all coming fast so I’m just enjoying it as it comes. I’m looking forward to the next four years at Portland State. It should be fun.”
Despite the huge numbers and all the accolades he racked up in his four-year career at Kennedy, Mitchell has always been overlooked by observers of high school football.
A four-year starting running back, a three-time first-team all-Tri-River Conference selection, he rushed for 4,807 yards and 74 touchdowns in his career.
As a senior he rushed for 2,217 yards and 28 touchdowns on 223 carries. He also caught 13 passes for 275 yards and three touchdowns and intercepted seven passes.
But it wasn’t until he verbally committed to Portland State last summer that he popped up on anyone’s radar.
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Mitchell had been in touch with the Portland State coaches for a while, but when he went to a camp at the school in June, the coaches offered him a scholarship on the spot, and he verbally committed there.
“It was kind of out of the blue,” Mitchell said. “Most camps you go to, learn the fundamentals of how to do this as a running back, how to catch the ball and throw the ball and all that. This was more of a prove yourself camp. I saw it that way so I took advantage of that.”
He is one of two running backs signed Wednesday by Portland State – Antwone Williams of Dorsey High School in Los Angeles is the other – in addition to the five running backs already on the roster.
But the team’s top three rushers from last season are gone and there is a spot to fill.
For Mitchell to work his way onto the field, he will have to excel at every step.
“It’s always been that way, proving myself, but I’m looking forward to it,” Mitchell said.
bpoehler@StatesmanJournal.com or Twitter.com/bpoehler