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All-star game prepares former Paso Robles standout for pro football 

Mitchell Van Dyk

Mitchell Van Dyk, a 2009 graduate of Paso Robles High School

By Brandon Folsom
folsombrandonj@gmail.com

GREENVILLE, S.C. — Former Portland State University offensive tackle Mitchell Van Dyk, a 2009 graduate of Paso Robles High School, put his skills to the test against the toughest college football competition in the country Friday.

Van Dyk competed in front of professional scouts in the second annual College All-Star Bowl on the campus of Furman University in Greenville, S.C., and the CBS Sports Network provided a national audience for him to showcase the very best of his talents as an All-Big Sky first-team lineman.

“It was an awesome experience,” he said. “Not just because of the playing experience, but because I learned from the coaches and all of the other players. It was a really cool experience, and I made some new friends.”

Led by former Clemson University coach Danny Ford, Van Dyk’s National team defeated the American squad 12-6 in a defensive struggle. He blocked for star running backs such as Central Michigan’s Zurlon Tipton, Clemson’s Roderick McDowell and Samford’s Fabian Truss. Not only did he shine in front of pro scouts, but Van Dyk impressed his own all-star coaching staff.

“My coaches said I did good in pass protection and run blocking,” he said. “We ran the ball well, and we won the game, so that was good. Our goal was to have a 100-yard rusher, and we did that.”

The National offense broke long runs, executed successful screen plays and passed for first downs.

Van Dyk’s 2013 PSU team were privy to all of those types of plays. Last season, the Piliots set school records in total yards (6,486), rushing yards (3,330), rushing average (277.7 per game, total offense (540.5 per game), and rushing touchdowns (36). Friday was just business as usual for the 6-foot-8, 305-pound blocker.

Throughout the week leading up to the game, the coaching staff taught the all stars about the style of play of professional football. For some NFL draftees who didn’t attend the all-star game’s forums, the pros will be a wake-up call. For Van Dyk, now it’ll be something that he’s prepared for.

“The coaches gave us tips about what’s going to happen to us once we reach the next level,” he said. “They said everyone is going to be faster and just as big as us. It’s not just the phsyical part, and now it’s going to be more mental. We have to be both physically and mentally ready.”

Van Dyk said the experience playing in the all-star game was unforgettable. While there, he proved he could handle top-notch competition, gained more national exposure and put his name in front of several professional scouts from both the NFL and CFL.

“I could not have dreamed of this in how it’s a really good experience with the game, practice, coaches, players, and everyone who was involved,” Van Dyk said. “It was a really cool experience, and it’s something I’m going to look back at down the road. Even if I don’t make in the pros, I’ll always have this experience.”

Follow Brandon Folsom on Twitter at @Brandon_Folsom

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