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2010 NFL draft

Ex-Cat Mitchell excited after pick by hometown Texans

'It’s going to feel like a goal accomplished'

Ex-Wildcat footballer Earl Mitchell didn't learn from TV that he was drafted by his hometown Houston Texans with the eighty-first pick of the 2010 NFL draft. He was on the phone with Texans General Manager Rick Smith, who called him before the selection was announced.

Smith’s question was straightforward: “How would you like to come home and play for the Texans?”

Mitchell couldn’t respond right away as his phone lost reception, but when he called Smith back, his answer was simple: “Of course, I’m excited.”


Watching the draft at home with his family, Mitchell waited patiently for his phone to ring. Some sports outlets had projected him late in the third round and possibly in the fourth, but the Texans made his dreams come true earlier than he anticipated.

“I was sitting at home and waiting for my phone call,” Mitchell said. “I saw the 832 area code and thought it was a family member. I answered the phone and the first time the phone lost reception, but I called the number back and it was the Texans organization.”

Mitchell walked outside and could hear his family celebrate as his name was read.

“Everybody screamed and it was pandemonium,” said Mitchell about his family’s reaction.

Houston Texans

The Texans finished 9-7 last year – the first winning season in franchise history. The team is preparing for the future with the likes of 2006's number one draft pick Mario Williams on the same defensive line as Mitchell.

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“I was surprised, I had talked to them a little bit,” said Mitchell about being picked by his hometown team. “It’s going to be exciting and brings back a lot of memories. It will be great to be able to see my friends and family and they will be able to come to the games for a change. To be able to play in front of my family and at home is a blessing.”

Houston, who came into the league as an expansion team in 2002, came very close to making the playoffs for the first time last season. But after the New York Jets defeated the Cincinnati Bengals in week 17, the Texans were left out.

With a team that has very strong players on both sides, the Texans are ready to continue their push and might end their playoff drought.

UA brotherhood

Mitchell credits Antoine Cason and Mike Thomas with helping him prepare for the NFL. He will have a chance to face them both this season.

Cason, who was a first round pick by the San Diego Chargers, will travel to Reliant Stadium to play the Texans in November.

“It’s going to feel like a goal accomplished,” Mitchell said. “To see one of my Wildcat brothers on the other side of the ball is going to be great. That brotherhood is what it is to be a true Wildcat.”

Thomas, who is a wide receiver for the Jacksonville Jaguars, and Mitchell will see each other twice during the season, once in November and again in the last game of the season in January 2011. The Jaguars and Texans play in the same division.

As the Wildcats continue to put players in the NFL, Mitchell saw former teammate Rob Gronkowski go in the second round to the New England Patriots.

“I was excited with Gronk,” Mitchell said. “It was good to see a good guy that I played with up on the stage and everything go well for him.”

The day after

With some time now between the draft and reporting to mini-camp, Mitchell will return to Tucson to work out and get prepared, but the excitement in the Mitchell household continues.

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“I’m happy and still excited, but a little more calm than yesterday,” Mitchell said. “My family is keeping the excitement up though.”

Earl Mitchell press conference

Watch for updates throughout training camp and the season on Earl Mitchell.

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Courtesy of University of Arizona

Mitchell was selected in third round of the NFL Draft by the Houston Texans. He was one of only two Wildcats picked in the draft.

Wildcats selected in the 2010 NFL Draft

  • Rob Gronkowski, tight end, tenth pick of the second round by the New England Patriots, forty-second overall
  • Earl Mitchell, defensive tackle, seventeenth pick of the third round by the Houston Texans, eighty-first overall

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