By Brandon Speck/NEMS Daily Journal
Devin Mitchell’s jersey hangs safely enclosed inside Starkville High’s locker room. Yellow Jacket players don’t have to walk beside it to remember their fallen teammate, though.
Mitchell, a running back, wide receiver and linebacker, was shot and killed on Jan. 1, less than a month after his team played for the MHSAA Class 5A state championship.
“It hurt. It hurt. Just knowing the person Devin was, and how he carried himself, day in and day out, on the field and off the field,” said Starkville senior linebacker/defensive end David Fair. “You would be amazed how many people, because of that situation, just knowing him, it just brought so many people to Christ.”
Wearing a black bracelet with Mitchell’s name inscribed in Starkville gold, Fair was joined by senior quarterback Gabe Myles Monday at the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame in Jackson for the MHSAA’s 2012 championship press conference.
Fair talked about the Christian faith he shared with Mitchell and recalled the outpouring of support after the early-morning tragedy. The Yellow Jackets lost to Picayune last December and are making a return trip to the 5A finals after beating rival West Point last week. Mitchell would have been a senior.
“As a senior class, after we lost we all got together and talked. Devin was one of the main people saying ‘We’re going to get back to Jackson,’” Myles said. “Those were his last words to us as a team. He’ll always be one of the 2013 Jackets.”
Myles said the team talks about Mitchell on a regular basis on Friday nights, but last week’s win against West Point was dedicated to his memory.
Mitchell had team-highs of 34 catches, 772 yards and 10 touchdowns last season.
Starkville coach Jamie Mitchell said Devin Mitchell’s parents are a big part of the team. Devin’s dad spoke to the team at a Thanksgiving breakfast last week.
“He’s still with us every day and we talk about him just about every day,” Jamie Mitchell said. “His memory is carried with us every day. Devin was an absolute top-notch kid, one of the top players on this team. He’s still with us.”
WHO: Starkville (11-3) vs. Pascagoula (11-2)
WHAT: MHSAA Class 5A Championship Game
WHERE: Veterans Memorial Stadium, Jackson
WHEN: 7 p.m. Saturday