DOVER — None of this is easy, of course.
In a perfect world, Isiah Mitchell would be getting ready for his senior football season at Wesley College.
But Wesley and its football program no longer exist.
So Mitchell has decided that his next-best option is playing for Delaware State. The Middletown High grad announced this week that he’s committed to DSU as a walk-on.
The 5-foot-11, 180-pound senior defensive back will have one season of eligibility remaining. Mitchell said leaving his Wolverine teammates behind isn’t easy.
“We’re very close,” he said. “And the fact that our school was broken up is hurtful. It hurts. But, at the end of the day, this is going to teach us how strong that bond was and it made us better as athletes and as men.
“That’s what the end-all goal is. I think people forget that. I love Wesley until I can’t breathe any more and I love Coach (Mike) Drass.”
Mitchell may still end up playing with some of his old teammates. Former Wesley coach Chip Knapp said DelState is looking at a handful of Wolverines.
It doesn’t hurt that former longtime Wesley assistant coach Steve Azzanesi is now the Hornets’ offensive coordinator.
Other former Wolverines are finding new homes, too. Standout defensive end Shymere Vessels (Woodbridge) transferred to Delaware Valley earlier in the school year while linebacker Jay Holmes (Caesar Rodney) is headed for NCAA Division II Indiana (Pa.).
“Guys are finding places,” said Knapp. “Some are Division III, some are Division II. There are a couple coaches looking for guys to fulfill a need. All of a sudden they need someone and they’re looking to Wesley to see if we have any guys still available.
“They are part of the Wesley football family,” Knapp added about the players. “It’s just like seeing a son go off to college. You want them to do well. I’ll be following all their careers as they move forward.”
Mitchell feels a little bit like he’ll be coming full circle. He started his college career at FCS Division I Stony Brook before transferring to Wesley.
Now he’ll finish his career at the FCS level.
Mitchell, a two-time All-Stater at Middletown, was in on 86 tackles over his two seasons at Wesley.
“He’s been great,” said Knapp. “He’s been one of our top players at Wesley. And we feel our top players can compete on higher levels and he’s a great example of that.
“I expect him to do well at Delaware State.”
Of course, Mitchell knows he’ll have to prove himself to a new group of coaches and teammates. But the way things ended at Wesley gives him a lot of motivation to work his way onto the field again.
“I wanted to finish what I started,” said Mitchell. “They took our school from under our feet. I kind of just want to prove a point — not just for myself but for all the other athletes at Wesley.
“I’m definitely determined to get on the field anywhere I play. ... Everybody’s got to earn something in life. And you’ve got to consistently show up and be there. I learned that very fast in college football. The moment you take a break, somebody is right behind you.”
Wesley player killed
One of the Wesley players that college scouts were looking at was freshman running back Latrell McCants.
The freshman running back was killed in a single-car crash in suburban Washington, D.C. at 5:40 p.m. on Sunday.
McCants scored three touchdowns for the Wolverines during their three-game spring season. Knapp said the 19-year-old had a great deal of potential.
“As a freshman, he had a very bright future,” said Knapp. “He took football very seriously. He was one of the smartest freshman football players I’ve seen at Wesley in a long time — as far as his football IQ.
“You could tell he was focused to be the best he could be on the football field, for sure.”