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ERIC SONDHEIMER / ON HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL

Alemany's Steven Mitchell is quite a catch

Mitchell started young, and now he's one of the top receivers in Southern California.

August 18, 2012|Eric Sondheimer

Steven Mitchell remembers starting to play catch with a football when he was 4 and inside the house with his father.

"My mom didn't really want us to throw," he said.

As usual, mom knew best.

"You name it, we broke it," Steven Sr. said.

Lamps, vases, tables — they became targets for destruction.

"When boys get out of hand, of course she's going to yell," Steven Sr. said of his wife, Nicole.

The Mitchells eventually took their game outside, and the rest is history.

Mitchell, a 5-foot-10, 177-pound senior at Mission Hills Alemany, has become one of the premier receivers in Southern California.

"Every time he touches the ball, he has a chance to go the distance," Alemany Coach Dean Herrington said.

Mitchell scored 19 touchdowns as a junior, 11 on receptions, five rushing, one on a kickoff return, one on a punt return and one on an interception return.

"I really don't like it when people have hands on me, so I use my moves to get off them," he said. "I just think of the end zone. I try to get there as fast as I can."

With an impressive burst of speed and sturdy upper-body strength, Mitchell is the big-play threat that would make any offensive coordinator confident.

"The thing about him is he can start and stop on a dime," Herrington said. "If he's in space and it's one on one, it's almost impossible for a high school player to tackle him. I've never seen such lateral movement from a player."

Herrington said college coaches who have come to campus tell him that Mitchell reminds them of former Crenshaw standout D'Anthony Thomas, now at Oregon.

"He's so elusive and so quick and can get from zero to 60 so fast," Herrington said.

Mitchell used to like basketball better than football, and his father remembers his son's unease as a 7-year-old.

"The entire year leading up to football signups, he was on me, 'Daddy, I want to play football,'" Steven Sr. said. "The first day of practice he stops me, tugs on my shirt: 'Yeah, son?' 'Why did you sign me up for football?' 'This one time, you can have my permission to withdraw, but do me one favor — go to this one practice. If you want to stop, stop.'

"He went through practice, loved it and didn't look back."

Mitchell committed to USC during the summer and hopes to lead Alemany to a Pac-5 Division championship.

eric.sondheimer@latimes.com

twitter.com/LATSondheimer

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