Connor Mitch excited about future as an SEC quarterback

Gamecocks freshman makes debut this week in spring practice

pobley@thestate.comMarch 4, 2013 

Connor Mitch from Wakefield High in Raleigh, N.C., is already on campus at South Carolina.

GREG MINTEL — newsobserver.com

Connor Mitch grew up idolizing Texas Longhorns quarterback Vince Young.

Connor Mitch is no Vince Young.

“I was in love with Texas back then,” he said. “I still have a bunch of Texas stuff. … But I knew I wasn’t like him.”

The latest big-name quarterback recruit for USC is clear of mind and has signal-calling in his blood, thanks to a father who played the position at Syracuse.

“I guess I’m a Matt Ryan fan,” Mitch added, talking about a pro quarterback whose still he more closely mirrors. “I just like him. He’s a field general … who won’t beat anyone with his legs.”

Mitch beat the state of North Carolina senseless with his right arm. The 6-3, 210-pounder out of Wakefield High comes to USC ranked second in four career categories in the North Carolina annals – 12,078 passing yards, 1,384 attempts, 807 completions and 153 touchdowns.

During his senior season, Mitch passed for 4,661 yards and 63 touchdowns. He did so while completing 62 percent of his passes. In a state where eye-popping passing totals are becoming more and more passé, his numbers still stood out.

“In the past couple of years, North Carolina has been known as a high school football state,” Mitch said. “I guarantee in a couple of years it will be known as a powerhouse.”

Wakefield fell short of the state championship this season. Like any field general worth his salt, Mitch said that was a disappointment.

“Personally it was a good year,” he said. “As a team, though, goal-wise, we didn’t get where we wanted to.”

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Connor Mitch was recruited early on by North Carolina, N.C. State and a number of other ACC schools.

Connor Mitch is no ACC quarterback.

Not long into his junior season when the numbers began to pile up, Mitch’s recruiting broke through to a higher echelon.

“You know it’s starting to get heavy and you feel a sense of accomplishment when an SEC school comes after you.”

LSU, Alabama and Tennessee each made runs at Mitch. But it was a junior day visit at another campus that took his breath away.

“That was when I started taking South Carolina seriously,” Mitch said. “And I fell in love with it when I went back for the spring game.”

Mitch committed to USC in May. This past season, he made it down for the Georgia game at Williams-Brice.

“I saw the Florida State-Oklahoma game and it was louder at the USC game,” Mitch said.

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Connor Mitch may very well be the next great quarterback at USC.

Connor Mitch likely will be redshirted this season.

“I’d love to play right away, but I understand if it’s best to redshirt,” Mitch said. “To get everything down and just memorize everything.”

With Connor Shaw and Dylan Thompson returning, the Gamecocks are set for the 2013 season. With Thompson entering his senior year in 2014, Mitch and Brendan Nosovitch figure to duke it out as his backup.

But you never know.

Mitch will do whatever he can to speed up his time table. To that end, he graduated from high school and enrolled at USC for the spring semester. With Shaw still recovering from foot surgery, USC head coach Steve Spurrier said Mitch would get plenty of snaps in spring practice.

Mitch has watched the Gamecocks closely, especially the team’s offense, which has been heavily retooled to take advantage of Shaw’s dual-threat capabilities.

“I don’t think they’ll have me run as much,” Mitch said. “If I had to, I’d do it.”

One part of the offense Mitch does feel comfortable with is the zone read.

“That’s all I did (at Wakefield),” he said. “I know how to read in that kind of scheme.”

For now, Mitch simply will be happy to be on USC’s campus. Perhaps more than that, he’s happy there are precautions in practice to protect quarterbacks from new teammate Jadeveon Clowney.

Mitch was watching when Clowney destroyed Michigan’s Vincent Smith during the Outback Bowl.

“Yeah, that left me kind of speechless,” Mitch said. “Usually, though, they don’t let guys like Clowney hit guys in the red jerseys.”

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Connor Mitch is no Vince Young.

He's not an ACC quarterback and he's probably going to redshirt.

That's OK. Connor Mitch is going to play quarterback in the SEC.

“That’s the thing,” he said. “It seems like whoever wins the SEC championship is going to win the NCAA.

“Like I said, it’s a whole other level. Hard to explain,” he added. “I’m really excited. I’ve been waiting a long time.”

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