Every day you have choices, and each one leads you down a new path. Some paths are easy, and others take more time, patience, and effort. There are obstacles along the way and people that will inspire you. The decisions you make are usually influenced by past experiences, goals, and your purpose in life.
A tragic event happened at Oxford High School in Michigan almost one year ago today. A mass shooting that killed four students and injured seven others. One of the students killed was Tate Myre, a star football player. This was a devastating time for the entire community and changed the lives of so many families.
Another football player that was there that day, and a good friend of Tate’s, was Mitchell Viviano. Mitchell is currently a 6’6, 255-pound prep school prospect in the class of 2023 at Fork Union Military Academy in Virginia. Viviano decided to reclassify and attend Fork Union in August, shortly after the tragic event at Oxford.
At the time of his decision, Viviano only weighed 215 pounds and had no scholarship offers. As a 2-sport athlete in football and basketball, Viviano knew he needed more time to develop and have a productive offseason to become a more desirable prospect for colleges. He had a lot of work to put in and had only six months once basketball season was over before he enrolled at Fork Union. He was also still figuring out how to move forward after the shooting at Oxford and the loss of his friends.
During the six months of training and to this day, the positive memories of his friend, Tate, inspired him to go all out and chase his dreams of playing at the highest level.
“What happened that day changed how I approach my life. Every day I wake up with a new purpose to work as hard as possible to achieve my goal and show out for my community. I was a close friend of Tate Myre, so seeing how extremely hard he worked every day firsthand changed my work ethic. I always push myself to work harder than the day before because I know with confidence that’s exactly what Tate would do. So when I’m tired or sore, I always think about Tate, which helps me push through and work harder. Tate was a role model for all of us. He always did the right thing, and he never took any shortcuts,” said Viviano.
As Mitchell’s senior basketball season ended, he immediately started training for the college 1-day camps and Fork Union. Viviano worked on an off-season game plan with Power 5 Football and Jim Browne from Athlete’s Edge. His focus centered around getting faster and more explosive, improving his combine techniques and testing results, and a strength program to add muscle to his 215-pound frame. He also worked on positional training as a Tight End and Defensive End.
By the end of the summer, Viviano added 30 pounds to his frame while maintaining his 4.7 40 Time and 4.2 Shuttle. His bench increased from 5 reps at 185 to 11 at 225 pounds. The extra offseason of physical development was crucial to putting himself in a position to get some scholarship offers.
“Mitchell’s decision to reclassify and be patient with the process was right for him. We had a great plan to get him where he needed to be, and we knew our timeframe. He was dedicated, coachable, and made huge strides. We knew if he followed through with our plan, the Division 1 offers would come. He has loads of potential to be great, and I am excited to follow his college career and look forward to helping him more when he comes back home,” said Jim Browne.
Adapting to Fork Union Military Academy (FUMA)
Viviano arrived at Fork Union Military Academy in mid-August and had to adapt to the rules and way of life on campus. “I’ve had to adjust to a whole new lifestyle here. I had to give them my cell phone, cut my hair, wake up early every day, and do everything a specific way, or I get punished. This new way of living has put a lot of discipline in my life, and I needed that after
high school” said Viviano.
What does a typical day look like at Fork Union Military Academy?
“A typical day at FUMA is waking up at 6 AM, putting on your uniform, shaving, and cleaning your room till about 7 AM. Then you line up in 2 groups of 3 lines outside and march over for breakfast. Breakfast ends at 7:25 AM, and from there, we line up again outside and head to morning colors. Morning colors are where all the companies of FUMA line up with their company around the flag and salute the flag as they raise it for the day. After morning colors, you are dismissed to class.
After class at 10:30 AM and depending on the day, you may have to go straight to chapel for a session with the school chaplain. And either after chapel or after class, we head down to the Estes (athletic center) for a quick conditioning/agility session or a lift. From here, we go to lunch, and don’t have to march. We are allowed to walk.
After lunch, you have to be in class by 12:30 PM, or you will have punishment. Class is dismissed at 2 PM, and we either go to drill or straight to practice. A drill is military exercises performed by a tactical officer. We have practice either after drill or after school till about 5:15.PM.
After practice, we walk up individually to dinner. We have meetings after dinner from 6:15 PM till about 7 PM. At 7:15 PM, we have retreat. The retreat is the same thing as morning colors, but you bring the flag down instead of bringing it up.
Once the retreat is over, we have CQ from 8:00 – 9:30 PM. CQ is a study hall, and you must be at your desk with the door open and the lights on. We are not allowed to have food at our desks, only water. Lights are out at 10 PM.
2022 FUMA Football Season
In the first game of the season, Viviano didn’t waste any time impacting both sides of the ball. He caught a touchdown pass and a 2-point conversion on offense and had 2 sacks and 3 tackles for loss on defense. He got another sack in his second game and stripped a ball carrier on another play, and ran it back 68 yards for a touchdown. In his third game, he recorded 2 more sacks.
As a tight end, Viviano did an outstanding job blocking in all 3 games. This led to moving him to the offensive line in Game 5 and finishing out the season playing Offensive Guard and Tackle on offense. He did extremely well on video for the first time ever, playing on the offensive line.
The FUMA staff may have tapped into something his trainers projected a few years back. This could be the best position for him to grow into over the next 5 ½” years in college. High school Tight Ends are known for projecting into offensive linemen in college. Viviano could be the perfect prospect to do this and give him the most upside at what he could become at the next level.
The team finished with a 7-2 overall record. Viviano ended up playing 6 positions during the course of the season; tight end, defensive end, nose guard, right guard, left guard, and left tackle. He had 11 sacks, 5 tackles for loss, 3 fumble recoveries, 1 pass breakup, 1 safety, and a defensive touchdown.
2022 PG Highlight Video
Football Recruiting Status
Shortly after the first 3 games of the season, Viviano picked up two Division 1 scholarship offers. One was from Eastern Illinois University, and the other was from Robert Morris University in Pittsburgh. At that point, he knew the decision to go to a prep school was the right one, and all the hard work paid off.
“Coming to a Post Graduate school has helped me an unbelievable amount. In high school, I was 6’6 215 and didn’t even have a D2 offer before signing day. But after deciding to go all in on football and working my ass off with Coach Browne and Coach Bouch this offseason, I was able to get my speed and strength up to where I needed to be. I can’t put into words how much this decision has helped my recruitment and development as a player,” said Viviano.
Viviano’s most recent offer was from the University of Buffalo in the Mid-American Conference. This is his first Division 1A opportunity. Other schools that have visited Fork Union are Wake Forest, Virginia, Virginia Tech, and James Madison.
University of Buffalo Scholarship Offer
Buffalo was Viviano’s first Group 5 scholarship offer. “Buffalo offered me as a Tight End. They think I can provide them with a big, versatile body that will do whatever it takes to win football
games. My visit to Buffalo was fantastic! I watched the Toledo vs. Buffalo game. It was an exciting game, and they ended up beating Toledo. The coaches were very excited to see me and were happy I was able to come to a game. They talked to me about how I would fit in, how they would use me, what Buffalo was like, and the program/coaches’ expectations,” said Viviano.
FUMA Football Combine
Fork Union hosts their annual football combine and showcase on December 8. This will allow college coaches to watch and recruit all the players in this year’s class. In the past, this is an event that helps these young men secure scholarship offers and opportunities. Most will enroll early in January with the 2023 recruiting class. Viviano should grab the attention of all the coaches in attendance when they see him up close. He has three Division 1 offers now and should leave with several more.
Mitchell Viviano had a nice high school career at Oxford as a Tight End and Defensive Lineman. He earned All-League honors (OAA Red) and showed flashes of being a Division 1A caliber prospect. He improved his stock tremendously during the 2022 offseason when he added 30 pounds to his frame. He was able to maintain his athleticism and speed and looks like a new player at FUMA.
Outside of his 6’6” 255-pound frame, he has a lot of versatility playing multiple positions this season for FUMA. On defense, he has made a lot of big plays off the edge as a defensive end. Viviano has a long wing span and added some new pass-rush moves to his arsenal. On offense, he played Tight End and was moved to the offensive line late in the season to help his team. Even if he plays tight end early in his college career, he may end up being an offensive lineman when it is all said and done. It will be more up to the teams that recruit him and where they see him fit in their system and long-term plans.
As we get closer to the National Signing Day, and when the dust settles with all the college coaching changes, Viviano is a player Division 1 coaches need to take a hard look at as they finalize their recruiting class. He is just scratching the surface at what he can do. With his size and athleticism, it will be scary to see what a college team could mold Mitchell into over the next 5 ½” years.
Viviano has the discipline and a positive experience at Fork Union Military Academy that helped strengthen his foundation as a person and a player. He also draws inspiration from his close friend he lost at Oxford. This fuel and purpose will give him the mental toughness to fight through all the challenges he will face. If I were a college coach, I would be at Fork Union on December 8. Viviano could be a key building block for the future of your program.