The last time we spoke to Eisenhower High School standout lineman Mitch Straight, he was trying to find his place on a Division I college football team.
Fast forward a few years: Straight started all 12 games this season on the Akron University offensive line.
He wrapped up his collegiate career last week against the University of Toledo - on ESPN2, no less.
Photo courtesy of Akron University Sports Information
Eisenhower High School graduate Mitch Straight (64) lines up at left guard for Division I Akron University in a televised game on ESPN2 last Tuesday against Toledo. That was straight’s last game for Akron as a redshirt senior.
Photo submitted to Times Observer
Mitch Straight (64)
Photo submitted to Times Observer
Mitch Straight, middle, tallest
Despite his team's less than stellar records, he was a starter for all 12 games as a sophomore and senior, and started four games as a junior before his season was cut short by an injury.
"I had seven tears in my meniscus of my left knee that I had cut out three days before camp," said Straight. "The recovery was horrible. It takes a lot out of you playing college football, with lifting and practice every day. Then you add rehab and treatment into it for months at a time, and it really starts to break you down mentally.
"If I was healthy, I would be all about trying to play at the next level, but right now I am just focused on getting my body healthy," he said this week.
He's always dreamed of playing in the NFL. If his career is indeed over, there is no disputing the accomplishments Straight has made for Akron.
While becoming a regular on the line, Straight proved his versatility by playing three of the five positions at different stages in his career. After starting two games at right guard as a redshirt sophomore, Straight moved to left guard, and then left tackle before returning to right guard in his final year.
"I really was able to catch on to all the positions pretty easily," he said. "The only thing I can't do is snap the ball."
Despite winning just three games in as many years, the Zips played a number of close games in a much-improved Mid-American Conference.
"The MAC really turned it up this year," said Straight, whose Zips allowed an average of two sacks a game, and zero sacks in three games. "All the teams were pretty good and they all had great records. It was just a hard thing to deal with this season because we were really close to beating some of the best teams."
Even through his teams struggles, Straight remains pleased with his decision to play football at Akron.
"A lot of people might think I'm crazy because, even after going through three head coaches, eight different strength coaches, four position coaches, and only having three wins in the last three seasons, I would still do it all again," he said.
Straight turned down a scholarship to the University of Buffalo, another MAC school, for Akron.
In high school, the 6-foot-5-inch, near-300-pound Straight was a first-team all-region selection both as an offensive and defensive lineman, and earned a state medal in wrestling.
Straight made his Division I college debut on Sept. 5, 2009, on the grass of Penn State's Beaver Stadium in front of a crowd of over 107,000 fans. He was dressed in his old high school No. 64 and, again, in the blue and gold - only this time for the University of Akron Zips.
As a senior he played in a game opposite another Warren County standout, as Warren Area High School graduate Colter Johnson punts for UMass - in its first year in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS).
It went by so fast. Straight will graduate this December with a 3.0 GPA in Health and Physical Education.
"I made a lot of great friends, I'm earning my degree, and I had a lot of fun, too," he said.