NATRONA HEIGHTS, Pa. – After attending Catholic Central High School as a freshman, Mitch DeZort decided it was time to make a change. With a long commute and steep tuition mounting, he transferred to nearby Highlands, a school standing 6-2 on the cusp of a playoff run.
DeZort, who recently visited Virginia and Cornell for both football and basketball, spoke with Today’s U about his recruitment, one that stretches two sports and infinite possibilities.
“I didn’t play football last year,” DeZort told Today’s U. “I was mainly focused on basketball because I was getting a lot of looks basketball-wise. This year, I definitely wanted to play and I really missed it last year. I was talking to the [football] coach a lot and he tried getting me to play last year, but I told him I needed to work on basketball. Then this year I just really missed it and knew I needed to come back. It’s been real successful.
“It’s been going great. We already have a seed in the playoffs. This coming week is deciding whether or not we have home-field advantage for the first round of the Woodfield playoffs. So, team-wise we are doing well.”
With one regular season game remaining on the schedule, DeZort has put together a near record-setting season from the safety position. He is only 10 tackles and three sacks away from breaking the single-season record at Highlands.
“After four games, at that point I had 69 tackles and seven sacks and two touchdowns,” DeZort said. “I have a nose for the football. I come from a family that has played college football and they all taught me. I’ve picked up different skills from each one of them. Each one has a specific great skill and I try to combine it all together for my performance. I have a nose for the football. A lot of people say that whenever I’m hitting someone, it looks like I’m running through them.”
Measuring 6’2” and 200-pounds, DeZort has the size necessary to play multiple positions, and the junior athlete starts at both safety and wide receiver. As for which side of the ball he will end up on, Dezort is unsure of that answer.
“Honestly, I don’t know,” he said. “As of right now, I think defense. On offense, I only have a couple receptions because we have a really talented wide receiver. They favor to throw it to him, which I don’t mind. I feel like I could play either side of the ball equally well.”
On the recruiting trail, several schools have taken interest in the Pennsylvania talent. DeZort is close friends with another top in-state talent and the duo has taken several schools so far.
“This past summer I visited Temple with a friend of mine, David Adams. He’s the No. 2 middle linebacker in the country for 2017. He’s been my best friend since we were in 5th grade. Coming up together, we decided one day we were going to visit Temple together. We both visited Temple and he holds offers from everywhere in the country, so he just wanted to get a look at different schools,” DeZort said.
“Two weeks ago, I visited Virginia. When I was up there I also visited James Madison. Then this past weekend I made it to Cornell, but that was for basketball.”
DeZort is unsure of which sport he will play at the next level. In the meantime, however, he enjoyed his visit to Virginia’s campus and spoke highly of his time with the Cavaliers.
“I absolutely loved the campus,” DeZort said. “Virginia’s campus set up was really nice. I really liked the campus in general. As soon as I got there, I went to their football recruiting room and had a tour of the facilities, the indoor football field and the weight room—that’s all state of the art. Then we went on a bus to the game, got to see the coaches on the sidelines before the Syracuse game, and it was a really nice atmosphere. It felt like the closest thing to home.”
Later this season, DeZort plans to take an unofficial visit to Pittsburgh for the Notre Dame game on November 7th with Adams.
Click here for a link to DeZort’s midseason highlight tape.