For Princeton’s Mitchell Harralson, Western Kentucky football was the right fit at the right time.
Coming out of Caldwell County football as one of the nation’s best longsnappers and top-20 prospects in Kentucky, Harralson headed to “The Hill” in Bowling Green after a stout recruiting process, donned a redshirt and put on more than 30 pounds of weight and muscle to his 6-3 frame.
Now, after “a lot of fun” at WKU, Harralson is heading home — where he’s set to join the Murray State Racers football program this fall, with four years of immediate eligibility remaining.
“Obviously, it was a really, really good (2019) season under Tyson Helton,” Harralson said. “We won a lot of ballgames. Made a bowl game. Got a ring. It was a really fun season.
“But, inevitably, I think I was needed elsewhere. But it was fun. My time at Western was very positive. I have nothing but gratitude for the coaches giving me an opportunity. I just wanted something fresh. Something new.”
Yes, it’s nothing but love for “The Hill” after his lone season there, and this move is hardly about any decisions surrounding playing time or discomfort with his previous team.
This is just about a new start.
“Playing time wasn’t at the top of my list,” he said. “I just wanted to be happier. I have a lot of friends at Murray State. I’m living with (Princeton native) Shane Burns, pitcher at Murray State, who’s my childhood best friend. It wasn’t really the playing time aspect. It has a little bit of something to do with it, but it mainly was about a fresh opportunity with new coaches, new faces ... and it’s a good opportunity for myself and my family to make.”
Oddly enough, there’s been some serendipity to his situation. During his recruitment process leading up to 2019 graduation, Harralson noted that the University of Kentucky was one program that recruited him heavily before he eventually opted to head to Bowling Green.
At the head of that recruitment? Former Kentucky special teams coordinator Dean Hood, now the head coach for the Racers.
“He and I had a really, really great relationship throughout the recruiting process,” Harralson added.
And it’s a relationship that had some weight, too. Because when Harralson first considered hitting the transfer portal, Murray State was his first phone call.
Through it all, Harralson heralds a Princeton upbringing as a big part of this decision process. It’s something he neither took lightly, or quickly, as other programs (such as Indiana State) were also in the mix.
“I’ve definitely had some good experiences in Princeton, in meeting people ... a lot of wise human beings...who have taught me how to navigate certain situations,” he said. “Be they good, bad, or ugly. Going away from football, (it’s) just business men and business women that I’ve had as teachers, that have taught me how to deal with people in general. Whether it be a good thing or a bad thing, and how to react in certain situations.
“It’s really helped me in the last month navigate this the right way, and not make any rash decisions. Really think about it, talk about it, pray about it. It’s really helped me make a sound decision that I’m comfortable with in going to Murray.”
Specifically, Harralson knows his job as longsnapper is specialized, and it’s the only position he and Hood have talked about during this transfer process.
He also knows that the Racers currently have a longsnapper in Brentwood, Tennessee’s Chandler Moody, who has started the last 23 games at the position after redshirting in 2017.
“I just want to compete,” Harralson added. “And just do anything that I can to make this team better.”
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