Win­ter Park safety’s mom can plan his Ga­tor party now

Orlando Sentinel - - Weather - By Chris Hays chays@or­lan­dosen­

Dakota Mitchell knew in his heart he was meant to be a Florida Ga­tor.

Now he is one.

The Win­ter Park safety, who com­mit­ted to play for LSU three months ago, changed his mind last week and de­com­mit­ted from his pledge. Six days later, he has com­mit­ted to Florida.

He al­most com­mit­ted in Septem­ber of last year.

He re­ceived a schol­ar­ship of­fer from Gators as­sis­tant di­rec­tor of player per­son­nel Kei­wan Ratliff, and he nearly com­mit­ted to UF, which he called his “dream school,” that day.

He had an emo­tional re­sponse to the Septem­ber of­fer.

“I felt amaz­ing. I felt like I wanted to cry. … Like, I wanted to cry, but you know how you’re so ex­cited it just won’t come out? That’s how my feel­ing was. I was not ex­pect­ing that,” said the 6-foot, 180-pounder, who serves nu­mer­ous roles on of­fense and de­fense for Win­ter Park.

“Florida’s been my dream school since I was like five … since I was so lit­tle. So, for that to hap­pen … my whole fam­ily — my broth­ers, my mom and my step­dad — they heard on the phone when he said that and they all started jump­ing around.”

In fact, he said his mom nearly threw him a party that week­end. At the time he had only three Foot­ball Bowl Sub­di­vi­sion of­fers — Illi­nois, Syra­cuse and West Vir­ginia, so the Gators’ of­fer was his first huge break.

But then he got caught up in the hype of LSU’s un­de­feated na­tional-cham­pi­onship sea­son and his infatuatio­n led him to com­mit to Ed Org­eron’s group. His heart, how­ever, got the best of him after giv­ing him­self time to think.

Mitchell has of­fers from all of the up­perech­e­lon pro­grams in the coun­try. He re­leased his top-five schools last week after de­com­mit­ting from LSU, list­ing Alabama, Florida, Ge­or­gia, LSU and Ok­la­homa.

Thurs­day night, he posted his de­ci­sion on Twit­ter: “I’m stay­ing home. 100% com­mit­ted to the swamp #GoGa­tors”

Mitchell is the sec­ond Win­ter Park player to com­mitt to a Power 5 pro­gram in the 2021 re­cruit­ing class, join­ing cor­ner­back Daniel Ed­wards, who is headed to Illi­nois.

Mitchell said he nearly com­mit­ted to Florida when he was first of­fered by the Gators. His mom can throw that party now.

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