Growing up in the small town of Hickory, Miss., James Mitchell was not aware that he did not have the amenities that most folks had.
Living with his mother and father in an era filled with racial divide, Mitchell was pushed to do better and to go further in life. He was given hope and that’s something, as the director of player development for the Duke University football team, that he works to give his players every day.
“This world is not going to get any better,” Mitchell said. “I don’t know if you realize that or not. It’s going to get tougher. So, we’ve got to give people hope and say, ‘You know what? You can get this done. It may take some time, but you can get this done.’”
That hope personified itself in each and every player when the Blue Devils played North Carolina. Duke had not defeated North Carolina at home since 1988 and had not had a win against the Tar Heels since 1994. That instance was just one of a few that Mitchell provided to show that having hope can make a difference and, as leaders, giving hope is one small part of the duty that Mitchell and the rest of the Blue Devils staff hope to instill in their players.
“We want to make a productive young man that is going to be productive in his setting and be productive in society,” Mitchell said. “That’s what it’s about. We have a unique opportunity because we have a unique degree at Duke. I work with the Fortune 500 companies. So I flew to Morgan Stanley. Morgan Stanley has this huge company. The chairman of the board was a football player at Duke. He said, ‘If I have a stack of resumes and there’s a Duke guy, a regular student, I may put it in the middle. But if there’s a Duke athlete, I’m going to move it towards the top because athletes are already disciplined. They know how to take tough times. So, in athletics, we have a unique opportunity to get some great men to do a lot of good things.”
Prior to Mitchell’s speech, S.C. State head coach Buddy Pough came forward to give a brief report on the Bulldogs. S.C. State is coming off a bye week and will travel to Greensboro, N.C., Saturday to face the North Carolina A&T Aggies.
“We’ve got our work cut out for us,” Pough said. “A&T is playing really well on defense. I mean, their defense has not given up a score at home in 10 quarters. That goes back past FAMU, back into Norfolk, back into Howard. That was about four weeks ago and they really get after you up front. It’s going to be a tough football game for us.”
Still Pough believes his offense will be ready for the challenge as its fields junior quarterback Richard Cue, who is coming off a record performance against Howard two weeks ago.
“We’ve got Richard, we think, on a high right now in his career,” Pough said. “ He’s seeming to gather some confidence and really get to the point where we can throw the football down the field in a way that I’m getting excited to go to the game and see him play. It’s one of those type of deals where you want to kind of see what they do. Our receivers are starting to play well. Our offensive line is getting a little bit better. We seem to be coming together here a little bit.”
Blackville-Hilda running back Darren Ford was honored as the Touchdown Club’s offensive player of the week. Ford ran for 151 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries in a 26-23 win over Wagener-Salley in first-round playoff action. Hunter-Kinard-Tyler linebacker Devante Fulmer was named defensive player of the week after recording 13 tackles, two sacks, two pass deflections and three tackles for loss against Ridge Spring-Monetta.