JT: As a family, we all sat down and we talked at the dinner table. And we kind of went around the table, we said what we thought he should do and why we thought he should do it. It was very much a family conversation.
DTH: Mitchell announced his intent to declare for the draft on Monday, Jan. 9. Do you remember the moment you felt like he knew his decision?
JT: That Saturday, I said, "Well, tomorrow's a big day. Do you have a decision? Do you know?" And he was like, "Yeah." So we came home from church, Sunday mass, he says, "I'm going to call the agent. I've made my decision." And it was just like that ... It was really on the clock a little bit. I was thinking, "You can't waste another week; if you're going to train, you've got to go train. You're wasting time here. Either you're going back to school or you're going to train in California." And he made his decision.
DTH: What was the response to his decision to declare for the draft?
JT: I think the coaches were a little bit surprised, but I think as far as our community, I think a lot of people thought he should come out ... Saying that, I don't think they knew some of our reasons why we thought it was a good reason to come out ... I think they get excited just knowing that someone that you know is going to be in the NFL Draft ... The decision was not made lightly, by any means. He loves UNC, and it will always be a big part of him. But the timing was good, and we thought it was the time for him to move and progress to be a better football player.
DTH: What factors went into his decision to declare for the draft?
JT: He went into great depth, and he talked to many people. He talked to three or four NFL quarterbacks that came before him: Carson Wentz, Jared Goff — I mean, he talked to a bunch of people and really got a good sense of information that he needed. He talked to a sports psychologist. I think he went above and beyond to get some of the information he needed to make this decision.
DTH: At the beginning of the year, did you think this is where he would be at this point?
JT: Absolutely not. I knew maybe we'd get here one day. I did not think it was going to be a year early. With him being redshirted and not playing, we knew he had five years there. We were anticipating the travel time and being away from my kids, and we bought a brand-new vehicle thinking that we'd be traveling ... We really did plan that he was gonna be there. We had no thoughts of him coming out early. That was not even a thought — I would say not even until about the eighth or ninth game where he started getting a lot of talk. But other than that, we never thought it once. Not once.
DTH: Do you think he saw this coming?
JT: I think it didn't really happen until the end of this season. I don't think he even thought about leaving or even thought it was an idea until right before the bowl game.
DTH: How did Mitchell block out the draft noise near the end of the season?
JT: He really didn't even want to talk about it until the season was completely over after the bowl game ... I'm sure it was in the back of his head, he's got people chirping in his ear and stuff like that. But at the same time, he was really trying hard to focus on doing the task of winning football games.
DTH: Are there any teams Mitchell feels are more likely to take him?
JT: I think it's more of a crapshoot. Obviously we know the teams that need quarterbacks, but at the same time, that can change. What we've learned along this process is that there's a lot of smoke and mirrors going on here, too. They say things that are not necessarily true or they don't say anything ... He just wants to go to a team that really wants him and that he's going to be a good fit for, whether that's at No. 1 or whether it's No. 10 or No. 15. He just wants to make sure it's a good fit for him.
DTH: Are either you or Mitchell hoping the Browns draft him?
JT: I don't know how he feels about that. He'd be happy to go to any team, obviously, but for me I have little selfish reasons. I want him closer to home so I can get to games ... Other than that, I don't have any preference on any teams.
DTH: What would it be like to see Mitchell play for his favorite team?
JT: That would be something ... His first high school career touchdown was in the Cleveland Browns stadium (during his sophomore year) ... I thought to myself the first time he threw a touchdown, 'Oh my gosh, one day that could be something.' And who'd have ever thought we'd be at this point now? ... It'd be surreal for our community, I think, as a whole to see Mitchell in a Cleveland Browns uniform."
DTH: What went into his decision to start going by Mitchell over Mitch?
JT: It's kind of stupid, honestly. He never, ever, ever said that he wanted to be called Mitchell from now on. What happened — I'll tell you the truth. People call him Mitch, people call him Mitchell all the time. But he doesn't ever correct anybody. His birth name is Mitchell, and everybody in our family always calls him Mitchell. But when the reporter asked him, he goes, 'Well, you can call me anything, but my mom prefers Mitchell.' And he was kind of making a joke of it and it got totally spun out of control, which was not intended at all. Mitchell would have probably gone into the draft being called Mitch Trubisky, but he signs everything Mitchell ... He didn't say, "Mom, when I'm going into the draft, I want to be called Mitchell from now on." It was nothing like that.