The program is a joint venture between Wendy’s and the Heisman Memorial Trust. Since its inception the program has received almost 500,000 applications and honored 228 national finalists and 38 finalists.
One boy and one girl are honored each year as the finalists. Contestants are chosen from regions with the local region consisting of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin.
At the first level of judging, one boy and one girl from participating schools are honored. Then 10 state finalists are judged with one boy and one girl being named the state Heisman winner. Then the 102 state finalists — two from each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia — are judged.
Twelve national finalists from among the almost 48,000 applicants are selected. One boy and one girl are chosen from each of the six geographical regions.
The Heisman judging criteria are participation in at least one high school sport, at least a B average in classroom studies and a leadership or role model quality in school or in the community.
In this, his senior year, Mitchell has already concluded noteworthy seasons on the football field (All Conference) and the soccer pitch (All Conference). The fall sports season was particularly impressive in that he played both sports simultaneously.
“I owe a lot to my coaches for this past fall,” said Mitchell. “Not a lot of coaches would have allowed me to practice once or twice a week for football and soccer. It was pretty tiring in the pre-season, going from one practice session to another, but once the seasons got going, it got easier.”
Mitchell will be a big part of this coming Patriot basketball season as well, playing (probably) an off guard position and providing senior floor leadership. Then we’ll be off to the baseball diamond next spring to finish off an impressive high school athletic resume.
As a junior Mitchell made the All South Teams in three sports — baseball, basketball and soccer — and with the football season just concluded, he has an excellent shot at becoming a rare four-sport honoree.
With all the athletics, Mitchell — the son of Patrick and Marla Mitchell and the grandson of James “Mitch” and Boopie Mitchell and John and Linda Smallman, all of Metropolis — has maintained a 4.0 grade point average while being named to the National Honor Society and is active in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
Asked which sport he prefers, Mitchell hedged just a little. “I just love to compete, but I guess I really prefer the atmosphere and excitement of basketball.”
When asked about the future, the response was a little ambiguous again. “I’m looking at offers in basketball and baseball and Coach (John Warren) is starting to send out feelers for football.”
Mitchell has been in contact with Greenville College and MacMurray College, both in Illinois, about basketball and Cumberland, in Tennessee, and Northwest Florida about baseball.
Asked about the upcoming basketball season, Mitchell responded: “I’m really looking forward to it. We have good depth, experience and great chemistry. I believe it’s really going to be a fun year.”
Asked why he’s not bowling, Mitchell sounded surprised. “You know, I never really thought about it, I’ve always liked to bowl. I believe I’ll call Coach (Jason) Steele,” he said.
On Nov. 15, the Midwest region national finalists for the Heisman Award were announced. They were Chandler Carroll of Yorktown, Ind. and Rebekah Ehresman from El Paso-Gridley High School in El Paso, Ill.
Mitchell was unperturbed by the announcement.
“It was awesome just to get as far as I did,” he said.
I should say so!