And thus, the time is finally here…our final quarterback profile of the offseason! As most of you know by now, we’ve profiled four different quarterbacks currently on the W&M roster: Tommy McKee, Brandon Battle, Dean Rotger & Ted Hefter. Definitely check those out if you haven’t already. Including Shon Mitchell, one of these men will start the year under center for your William & Mary Tribe @ UVA. By the way, if you haven’t already blocked off September 2 on your calendars (the Season Opener date, duh) and reserved tickets for the AWAY section, call the W&M ticket office at 757-221-3340. Seriously, what are you waiting for?
So let’s get to it. Our final quarterback profile includes a player who is probably the most highly touted freshman the W&M program has received in quite some time — and potentially during the Laycock era (35+ years). But as we’ve iterated on this site before, absolutely nothing will be given to him. He will have to earn each and every snap; as we know, there is some stiff competition in his way. But one thing is for certain, he’ll have a hell of a shot this coming Fall. Let’s get to know Shon Mitchell.
- Height: 6’0″
- Weight: 180
- Class: True Freshman
- High School: Oscar Smith (Chesapeake, VA)
- Number: #4
- Twitter Account: @smitchell17_
High School Accolades
Shon’s high school football accomplishments are so numerous, that it’s quite literally hard to count all of them. To take a page directly out of his William & Mary player page (we’ve bolded some of his more… “insane” accomplishments, if you will):
“One of the most prolific quarterbacks in Virginia High School League (VHSL) history as a record-setting standout for head coaches Richard Morgan and Bill Dee at Oscar Smith High School … Four-year starter who posted a 52-6 record … Finished his career as the Virginia High School League all-time leader for career passing yards (11,380), touchdown passes (123) and completions (747) … Two-time first-team all-state selection … Honored as the 2016 All-State Offensive Player of the Year after passing for 3,338 yards … His 232 completions as a senior ranks tied for the ninth-best single-season total in VHSL history … Garnered second-team All-USA Virginia Football Team distinction … Selected as the 2016 All-Region and All-Conference Offensive Player of the Year … Three-time All-Region selection (2014-16) … Earned All-Tidewater and All-Conference honors all four years … Selected as a MaxPreps First-Team All-American in 2014 …”
To say that Shon tore up high school football would be an understatement. And guess what? Big time programs came calling. As a junior, Shon held offers from William & Mary, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest, Navy, Charlotte, and received strong interest from Nebraska (where his father played football). He ultimately chose William & Mary, and told Hero Sports that the opportunity to play in big games, the incredible coaching staff, overall fit with the W&M offense, and the talent that the program has produced in recent years (citing recent 6th round draft pick DeAndre Houston-Carson) were the main reasons that he chose the Tribe. In that same article, Mitchell said:
“Everything they have to offer fits me perfectly, I take pride in my education and William & Mary has one of the best education systems around. I have a great relationship with Coach (Kevin) Rogers. The staff keeps everything honest and open with me. I know that I am one of their top priorities. I love their style of offense; I believe that it fits me perfectly and it would give me a good opportunity to make it at the next level.”
“I definitely love the football atmosphere and educational opportunity of going to William & Mary,” Mitchell told HERO Sports. “I have no doubt that the competition in the CAA is top tier as the CAA is one of the best conferences in the nation at the FCS level. I think Coach Laycock is one of the best at what he does, and I have nothing but the highest respect for him.”
He went on to tell the Virginian-Pilot that,
“William & Mary is the perfect fit for me, I went there twice this summer and completely fell in love with the school…Coaches stressed to me that there’s a standard you have to fit – personality and character,” Mitchell added. “They told me I fit that standard, that I’m that caliber of person.”
In listening to Shon off the field, he’s truly an upstanding guy, well beyond his years. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again — he legitimately reminds us of Russell Wilson off the field, the way he talks, the way he is. That calm, cool and collected confidence is contagious, and surely rubs off on those around him.
This Year’s Spring Game and W&M Outlook
Shon graduated high school a semester early this year (finishing with a GPA above 4.0, by the way) to get a head start and join the football team early. And although this happens with regularity at “larger” football schools, this is not at all a common occurrence for William & Mary’s program — in fact, it’s quite rare. The fact that Coach Laycock allowed Shon to join the team early is #1 impressive to us that Shon was able to pull it off and #2 shows us that the coaching staff wants to see what the young gun can do with extra practices under his belt going into Summer Camp.
And all of those extra practices paid off, as Shon was able to participate in-full during this year’s Spring Game. In fact, he attempted the most passes of any quarterback, finishing 7 of 14 for 86 yards, 0 TD. The fact that he received the most pass attempts tells us that the coaches, Head Coach Jimmye Laycock and Offensive Coordinator D.J. Mangas, wanted to test their highly touted prospect in his first game-like simulation against a collegiate defense. And he didn’t disappoint. His first pass, a short completion to #1 WR DeVonte Dedmon went for 25+ yards — showing what could potentially be a strong connection for the Green and Gold this season, if Mitchell is in fact given the start.
Of course, it’s important to note that this was not a complex play. It was a short pass that DeVonte, being the freak athlete that he is, turned into a big gain. And naturally, there were times when Shon looked like the rookie he is, throwing balls where the receivers were not — likely a product of him still learning the playbook so early in the offseason. But there were also times where he drove the ball into tight windows, taking command of the offense and reminding us why he was a highly sought after recruit we’ve heard so much about. He’s an incredibly intriguing prospect, and one that we will undoubtedly have to keep an eye on this offseason.
Odds of Starting: Medium-High
The prospect of a multi-year, and potentially four-year, starting QB makes us very, very happy (and let’s not forget that Dean Rotger and Teddy Hefter are also Redshirt Freshmen). Of course, if Shon did start next season, there would be growing pains. Opposing Head Coaches and their savvy Defensive Coordinators would welcome the opportunity to throw new looks, blitzes and defensive packages at an unseasoned freshman who was in high school just last year.
However, we think Shon has the ability to up his game against strong competition. He’s shown time and again that he can compete, and win, big games in the highly competitive “757” area code of Virginia High School Football. He does it both on the ground (#11 dual-threat QB in the country per 247 Sports at the time of commitment) and through the air (Virginia High School All-Time Passing Leader). His intangibles off the field leave people asking if they just spoke to a grown man, or a young freshman. And let’s not forget, big-time football schools such as Virginia Tech (even if they aren’t actually that great at beating good teams) and Nebraska had strong interest in him, with Tech offering and Nebraska about to offer. We believe we have a keeper in Shon, and will see if he’s up to the challenge this offseason.
Only time (and many more snaps) will tell with this one. Shon faces stiff competition from several up and coming athletes with similar pedigrees — and one that has been in the offensive system for three years now in junior Tommy McKee. One thing is for certain: Jimmye Laycock and D.J. Mangas will not have an easy decision this offseason. Either way, we can’t wait to see who starts under center for your Green and Gold on September 2. Get your popcorn ready. LET’S GO TRIBE!!!