Ridaught: Williston’s Mitchell projected first-round NFL pick

University of Toledo's Quinyon Mitchell, a Williston native, is projected to go in the first round of Thursday's NFL Draft.
University of Toledo's Quinyon Mitchell, a Williston native, is projected to go in the first round of Thursday's NFL Draft.
Courtesy of University of Toledo

Another area athlete is expected to be taken in the first round of the NFL Draft.

Last year, former Eastside and University of Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson was selected fourth overall in the draft.

This Thursday in Detroit, Williston’s Quinyon Mitchell will likely get taken in the first round.

Peter Schrager, a national reporter for FOX Sports 1, a senior NFL writer for FOXSports.com and an NFL sideline reporter for FOX Sports, has Mitchell projected to be taken 17th overall by the Jacksonville Jaguars.

“This is truly a dream come true,” said Quinyon’s mom, MaShonda Solomon, who will be joining him in Detroit on Thursday. “This wouldn’t be possible without the goodness of God. We are filled with gratitude.”

Williston native and University of Toledo's Quinyon Mitchell.
Courtesy of University of Toledo Williston native and University of Toledo’s Quinyon Mitchell.

The 6-foot, 195-pound Mitchell played locally at Williston High School, finishing his prep football career during the 2018-19 school year.

Mitchell finished his senior year by leading the Red Devils in rushing with 983 yards on 104 carries (9.5 yards per carry) in eight games. He also added three interceptions on defense, which would become his forte.

“The thing I remember most about Quinyon was that he was the silent kid that could get everyone going without saying a word,” said his former high school football coach Justin Wentworth, who is now an assistant at Madison County. “He took on the challenges put before him on the field and in the weight room without a word in rebuttals.”

Last month at the NFL Scouting Combine
, Mitchell completed the 40-yard dash with a time of 4.33 seconds.

“Quinyon was always a kid with speed,” Wentworth said. “He could always pick those feet up and put them down quickly. When he got to his junior year he grew so much and physically gained strength that he was the total package. That continued into his senior year as well.”

Mitchell has come a long way since his playing days at Williston High School, where he was only a 3-star prospect but is now projected to go within the first 20 picks of Thursday’s NFL draft.

“I am truly not surprised, stars are just an opinion, it’s what you do when you get on campus,” said Wentworth, who noted that Mitchell battled a bad ankle sprain for most of his entire senior year. “Quinyon was a force that was recognized on film and on the field in person in high school.”

Despite leaving before his senior season, he became Toledo’s all-time leader in career pass breakups with 46. He also became the first Rocket ever to be named in all five major All-America teams in his career.

“When he got to Toledo, he showed just what he was made of and he will show whatever NFL team is lucky enough to pick him, they made the right choice,” Wentworth said. “I can’t wait to see the show.”

His coming out party was his sophomore season against Northern Illinois on Oct. 8, 2022, when he intercepted four passes in a 52-32 win. He returned two for touchdowns.

The NCAA record for interceptions in a game is five, which was last accomplished in 1972.

University of Toledo cornerback Quinyon Mitchell is a two-time All American who set a school record with 46 pass breakups.
Courtesy of University of Toledo University of Toledo cornerback Quinyon Mitchell is a two-time All American who set a school record with 46 pass breakups.

Later that year is when his mom felt like he had a chance to make it to the next level.

“Quinyon has always had undeniable talent, but the chances of playing in the NFL are very slim,” Solomon said. “When he was named All-America by the Walter Camp Football Foundation and led the nation (FBS) with the most passes defended (25) in 2022, I knew going to the next level was a strong possibility.”

He was also second in the Mid-American Conference in interceptions (5) and was first with 20 breakups.

His mom said there are three words that describe him best – relentless, humble, and loyal.

“Quinyon could have easily chosen a different path in life,” she said. “He had some setbacks that delayed his collegiate start, but he was determined to play Division I football. During his sophomore season, he said his two goals were to leave Toledo with a degree and play in the NFL. He graduated in December and the draft is a few days away.”

She said that “no matter the significance of the play on the field or the accolades off the field,” her son always kept his head down and continued to work hard.

Solomon added that since childhood, Quinyon has been loyal to family, friends and teammates.

“Power Five programs offered six-figure NIL deals for him to transfer, but he declined because the relationships he established with coaches and teammates at Toledo were priceless,” she said.

Mitchell is only the second Rocket ever and the first since defensive lineman Mel Long, Sr. (1970-71) to be named All-America in consecutive seasons by at least one of the five major All-America teams (AP, AFCA, FWAA, Sporting News in 2023; AP and Walter Camp in 2022).

The two-time All American could be the first cornerback selected in the top half of the first round of the 2024 draft.

The Williston native is one of 13 invitees who accepted their invitations to attend the Draft and the only player not from a Power Five institution.

“Obviously, it’s big for that community,” Wentworth said. “I could not be prouder and more excited for Quinyon and his family. He is a great representative for the community of Williston, Florida. It was a true honor to coach Quinyon Mitchell.”

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