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RW Recruiting: Interview with 2023 Ole Miss DL target Sydir Mitchell and trainer Leroy Thompson

RW Recruiting: Interview with 2023 Ole Miss DL target Sydir Mitchell and trainer Leroy Thompson

OXFORD, Miss. — English philosopher Roger Bacon writes, “…the things of this world cannot be made known without a knowledge of mathematics.” 

When I think of the art of football recruiting, I can’t help but relate it to a math concept called “game theory.” In some respects, game theory is the science of strategy, or at least the optimal decision-making of independent and competing actors in a strategic setting.

GAME THEORY: “Game theory is a branch of applied mathematics that provides tools for analyzing situations in which parties, called players, make decisions that are interdependent. This interdependence causes each player to consider the other player’s possible decisions, or strategies, in formulating strategy. And according to game theory, the actions and choices of all the participants affect the outcome of each.”

To me, this is almost the essence of recruiting. When the dominoes start falling in recruiting cycles, one can clearly see how the decision of one player or one coach can affect so many. 

End of Recruiting Dead Period

As of June 1, the recruiting dead period ended for this cycle of recruiting, and you can bet it’s now going to be wild in the SEC, especially in the SEC West. 

The good thing for Ole Miss football is Coach Kiffin and staff could likely teach a class on game theory. 

Any coach juggling the number of scholarships available and what positions are most-needed — while factoring in which high school athletes to recruit and which players to look at in the “free agency” of the transfer portal, along with the nuances of one-time instant eligibility — should at least be eligible for a minor in game theory.  

Recruiting one of the nation’s finest: Sydir Mitchell

Coach Kiffin and the Rebels continue to build ties in key recruiting battleground areas — and not just in the south. 

It should come as no surprise Coach Kiffin and company hope to continue making their recruiting mark in the state of New Jersey — after all, it brought them the very talented Tywone Malone who will be a freshman defensive lineman this fall for the Rebels. 

In fact, Ole Miss is once again focusing on a talented player from Malone’s high school. The Rebels have offered Sydir Mitchell, another 4-star MaxPreps Freshman All-American defensive tackle from Bergen Catholic.

Here’s a video, courtesy of 908_Media of the two all-star defensive linemen putting in some extra training work:

Sydir Mitchell: The Beast in the Northeast

You can’t miss 6-foot-5, 340-pound Sydir Mitchell — on a football field or anywhere else.

He is one of the nation’s top 2023 prospects, according to the 247Sports composite, coming in as the No. 7 defensive tackle in the nation, No. 2 in the state of New Jersey, and the No. 130-ranked athlete at any position in the country.

The 4-star All-American holds 12 offers from some of the nation’s top Power 5 programs including Arizona State, Boston College, Florida State, Michigan, Penn State, Rutgers, Syracuse, USC and Virginia Tech — as well as SEC offers from three schools: Ole Miss, Tennessee, and Texas A&M  — and you can bet there will be more to come in the coming months.

The Rebels offered Sydir almost a year ago.

When I first became aware of the talented Sydir, it was through trainer and defensive line coach Leroy Thompson. Coach LT, as he is known, is one of the very best in the business and is helping develop some of the premier talent in the nation — talent you can be sure you’ll see play on Saturdays and Sundays. 

Thompson has trained incoming Ole Miss football and baseball star  Tywone Malone, the No. 1 player in the state of New Jersey for 2021. LT continues to play an integral part in Sydir’s football training and recruiting journey. 

When you watch his film and his training sessions, of course you see his size. That’s a given when you play his position. But what really catches my eye is his precision and speed.

He moves like he is floating on air, bringing power and speed on that large frame. Can you imagine a line featuring Mitchell and Malone together again? 

The Rebel Walk had a chance to catch up with both Sydir and Coach Thompson to talk recruiting and off-season training.

Trainer and Coach Leroy Thompson

The Rebel Walk: What has been Sydir’s biggest growth/improvement this off-season?

Coach LT: He’s grown in a lot of areas. Leadership, athletically, he’s improved in all areas. Footwork, handwork and football IQ.

The Rebel Walk: What is his X-factor?

Coach LT: His mobility for his size. At 6’5, he moves like a guy who is 6 foot.

The Rebel Walk: What makes a player like Sydir a problem for an offense?

Coach LT: He’s a problem not only because of his size, but because of his technique to take on 1-on-1 blockers, double teams, and pass rush.

Sydir Mitchell Interview

The Rebel Walk: You’ve already received offers from some of the top schools in the country. What are you looking for in a program?

Sydir: I am looking for a really close friendship with coaches and a college that is focusing on my major. I need to be close with the coaches and the coaching staff and see how they work with teachers and all that. 

The Rebel Walk: What’s your major going to be?

Sydir: Well, I know I want to work in the Math area.

The Rebel Walk: How helpful is it to have someone like Tywone Malone who has recently been through all the same things with recruiting?

Sydir On Twyone’s help in his game: He has helped a lot, especially during my freshman year to get me prepared to play varsity. He has helped me a lot with my confidence in playing the game and getting through making sure how to take a double team or how to get off a block.

Sydir On Tywone’s guidance in recruiting: He said to try to stay to a coach that really likes being with you and talking to you and makes sure he shows interest.

The Rebel Walk: What is the best part of your game?

Sydir: I am big and I have a lot of speed and power: So Size, Speed and Power.

The Rebel Walk: What area  of your game would like to improve upon?

Sydir:I would like to get better in my pass rush quality. I know I am a good run stopper but also want to show I got a lot pass rush moves too.

The Rebel Walk: What is your relationship like with Coach Partridge at Ole Miss? 

Sydir: We talk here and there, but I do talk to Coach Watson more. That’s who I talk with a lot. We’ve talked a lot, especially when I first got the offer but our relationship is pretty good.

The Rebel Walk: Is there a player you compare yourself to or pattern your game after in either the NFL or college?

Sydir: Sort of like Aaron Donald and Jason Pierre-Paul because they have size and speed and a lot of power and technique.

The Scouting Report

During the 2020 season, Sydir notched 32 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss and recorded two sacks. Here’s a little video footage of the talented Mitchell:

247Sports National Recruiting Analyst Brian Dohn likes what he sees in Mitchell:

“Ideal size and length for a defensive tackle. Works hands well and understands leverage. Possesses natural strength. Traits exist to be a run stopper in middle. Plays with a low center of gravity. Strong and has natural power. Gets off well at the line of scrimmage. Shows an ability to stack and shed. Manipulates torso through gaps. Will benefit greatly as he matures and adds lower body strength. Saw varsity action at high-level North Jersey program.” 

The Fit In The ‘Sip

It’s pretty cut and dry; you can never have too much size, speed, and power on your defensive front, and Sydir Mitchell possesses all three already.

He continues to work hard, and that will pay off as the talented athlete will only get better this off-season and next fall. With his speed and that frame, you can be sure he is going to have some O-lines and QBs shaking in their cleats. 

Let’s cross our fingers and hope Coach Kiffin is the game theory master we know he is so the Rebs can get this gridiron mathematician to Oxford.

(Feature image courtesy of Coach Thompson)

Follow The Rebel Walk’s Director of Recruiting Lee Ann Herring-Olvedo for all the latest!

About The Author

Lee Ann Herring-Olvedo

Lee Ann is the Director of Recruiting for The Rebel Walk. She is a veteran SEC sports journalist and NFL content writer. She is also the Sr. Editor for MESPORTS digital. Herring-Olvedo is a Brown University graduate who loves good cigars, good games, and a smooth glass of bourbon — not necessarily in that order.

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