He’s more than just a jock

The quarterback stands under center, surveying the defense while barking out signals. At the snap of the ball, 22 players will be set on a collision course that will result in a crunching hit as helmets meet pads.

From his linebacker position, No. 56 will fight off blocks, tackle ball carriers and try to disrupt the offensive flow of his opponent.
These 30-second scenarios were part of Cory Mitchell’s four-year football life at St. John’s.

Following the shooting that took place on campus less than two weeks ago, it was reported that a football player was shot in the back.
Those two words would be used to define who Cory Mitchell is: football player.

This is a story about a man who played football, but can hardly be defined as just a football player. One must look past all the tackles, sacks and fumble recoveries. The story is full of dedication, sweat and hard work made on and off the field.

“When we came in as freshmen,” said senior defensive end Erik Grzan, “he was always the one that was outspoken and the one that would make the best of every situation.”

As a football player, Mitchell’s St. John’s career was anything but extraordinary. He wasn’t the much- hyped, can’t-miss superstar. And that wasn’t Mitchell’s concern.

In three of his four years, his seasons were cut short by injury, including his final campaign last fall when he broke his ankle playing on the offensive line.

In a season where the team was ravished by injuries, Mitchell’s name joined a list of many. But the circumstances of his injury make the story more interesting. Being a defensive starter, Mitchell had been moved to the offensive line that week to fill in for a teammate.

“He was willing to switch positions,” sophomore linebacker Tarik Morrison said, “willing to sacrifice for the team.”

Had he stayed on defense, he might have never been injured, and may have kept on playing. His commitment to the team was so immense that he was willing to switch to a position that he hadn’t played in two years so the team could reach its goal: victory.

Mitchell didn’t have impressive numbers this past season, due to the injury and his position switch. He amassed 16 tackles and three sacks, this coming after a junior year when he corralled 70 runners to go along with 3.5 sacks.

Personal statistics were not the goal. Winning was. That’s what drove him to do his best, what he strove for on each and every play. There were no thoughts of personal glory, no boosting his stock for the National Football League draft. It was done for his teammates in an effort to win.

This is only a piece of what Mitchell had to offer to the St. John’s community.

Mitchell is also an active member of Phi Delta Psi, and boasts many friends and acquaintances around campus.

“Almost everyone knew him and his name,” said Grzan, “not because he was a football player but because he was just very liked by all.”
Mitchell was also a religious man, something Morrison remembers seeing in him before every game.

“He would get people together and pray before each game,” Morrison said. “He was always thanking God for his life.”

But for the most part, people will remember him for his outstanding play.

And now, Mitchell is playing in the biggest game of his life: the waiting game to see if he will ever walk again.

Two men arguing, which eventually leads to fighting. At the sound of shots being fired, dozens scatter in all directions, set only on trying to find safety.

From his position as a bouncer at a local bar, Cory Mitchell is hit in the back and lay helplessly on the ground. This 30-second scenario will be imprinted in his memory for the rest of his life.

What a horrible fate for a “football player.”

What a horrible fate for anybody.