HUNTINGTON — Before the Huntington Highlanders play a down of high school football in 2019, senior running back Diallo Mitchell already has plans for the postseason.
Mitchell was selected to play in the 2020 Blue-Grey All-American Bowl Jan. 13 in Atlanta, one of the four such games that follow the conclusion of the high school football season. The game will be broadcast on ESPN3.com.
"I'm excited. I know there's going to be really good competition, but I think I'm ready for it," said Mitchell before a Huntington High football practice Thursday.
As a junior, Mitchell was second on the Highlanders in rushing with 688 yards on 119 carries, good for a 5.8 average, with five touchdowns at the end of the regular season. In the playoffs, Mitchell carried 10 times for 73 yards and a touchdown in a win over Cabell Midland.
Huntington's season came to an end against Spring Valley and Mitchell turned his attention to baseball in the spring where he became the starting left fielder with a good arm.
Then football season started again.
Mitchell attended the Appalachian Prep Combine early in the summer and turned his attention to improving for his senior season.
"I went to the combine and got accepted," Mitchell said.
Mitchell said he doesn't know who the coaches will be; however, he had heard former Marshall wide receiver Troy Brown was on the committee that selected him.
Leading up to the game and the Huntington High season, Mitchell said he's focused on getting bigger, sharpening some of his skills and getting faster.
Highlanders football head coach Billy Seals said he can see Mitchell's work already paying off.
"It's night and day," Seals said of Mitchell's weight-room work ethic. "Last year the weight room was a place he didn't want to be, and this summer I think he missed one day out of 35 sessions. So, honestly, he's bought into the weight room and has seen how its impacted his development and his recruitment as well."
Mitchell is 6-foot-1 and estimates his weight at 190 pounds. According to Seals, his running back is 15-18 pounds heavier from last year. "If you look at him, he's trim. He's put together," Seals said.
The attention hasn't gone to Mitchell's head.
Seals, who advised the committee on what Mitchell's strengths and weaknesses were, said Mitchell doesn't talk much about the Blue-Grey game.
"He's excited about Huntington High football," Seals said. "He really hasn't said too much about it. He brought it up to me that one time and hasn't said anything about it since. He's working his tail off out here for us trying to be the best high school football player he can be."
Mitchell has high expectations for his Highlanders team. "I think we're going to be really good," he said. "We're young, but we got a lot of talent."
That talent will be led this season by its All-American in the backfield.