Disabato: Tommy Mister happy with fit at St. Rita
On the final play of the 2013 season, Tommy Mister wants to have a smile on his face, not tears in his eyes like he has the past two seasons.
“I just want to go to state and win a championship,” said Mister, minutes after completing his first official practice as a St. Rita Mustang. “I want to leave high school with a ring. The last two years we lost in the second round.”
The “we” Mister refers to now is “they.”
Those previous two years Mister was enrolled at Richards, earning SouthtownStar All-Area honors as a running back a season ago. He abruptly transferred to St. Rita during Christmas break, citing his family moving from Oak Lawn to Lansing as the reason. Going to Lansing’s home public school, T.F. South, was not an option, according to his parents.
The Misters told me in December they weren’t willing to take a chance of T.F. South and Richards playing in the playoffs, though Richards likely will be in 6A and T.F. South 7A.
So Mister enrolled at St. Rita in January in time for the second semester. Not since Zak Kustok transferred from Lincoln-Way to Sandburg has a football transfer caused such a stir locally.
“Everything’s going good,” Mister said. “I’m getting the offense down. We’ve changed some things up.”
When I asked Mister how it felt to be back playing quarterback, he needn’t say a word. The smile on his face and twinkle in his brown eyes said it all. The young man was beaming.
“The team looks up to the quarterback,” he said. “They say, ‘That’s our guy.’ The pressure is on you and the team supports you. I like that.”
And then, as I was readying my next question, Mister added, “The girls like the quarterback, too.”
Ah, yes, they do. It’s just there aren’t any girls walking the halls at St. Rita.
Mister was the quarterback at Richards his sophomore season and the first two games of 2012 until an injury forced him to sit out a week. By the time he was ready to return in Week 4, the Richards coaching staff decided to keep his replacement, sophomore Hasan Muhammad-Rogers, at quarterback and move Mister to running back.
Both players flourished as Richards finished 9-2.
As with any practice, Mister had his moments Wednesday. He completed some nice passes, overthrew a few others. But having him line up in the shotgun, along with running backs Tyre Lee and Derrick Miles, is an imposing site.
First and foremost, Mister is a playmaker, more of a threat with his legs than his arm. But he has the ability to turn negative yards into positives yards at any moment. He’s an athlete — all 6-foot-2, 210 pounds of him. More than two dozens colleges recruited him as an “athlete.” Mister chose Iowa State, which has the option to line him up in the slot, at receiver or maybe quarterback in the Wildcat — maybe even at defensive back.
Mister has the skill to flourish anywhere.
Playing in the Catholic League Blue certainly will provide a different challenge. That’s not a knock on the South Suburban Conference, which has produced its fair share of Division I athletes.
It’s just that this season the Catholic League Blue has an abundance of D-I athletes. Mount Carmel alone has five D-I recruits.
Plus, the Mustangs’ first two nonconference games are against Marist (at Soldier Field) and Danville. Hardly slouches.
“ ‘It’s not the South Suburban Conference’ is what I keep hearing,” Mister said. “Football is football. The South Suburban Conference is a very good conference. I know there are a lot of great players in the Catholic League. The combination of speed and power I have, they haven’t seen that a lot.”
Did I mention Mister doesn’t lack confidence?
Mister says he’s been accepted by his new teammates and peers at St. Rita. Mustangs coach Todd Kuska is happy to have him aboard.
“The guys have accepted him, which is important,” Kuska said. “He’s fit in nicely. He gives us another weapon on the offensive side. There are very few athletes that can do what he does. He definitely brings excitement.”
If that excitement translates into wins, Tommy Mister may just realize his dream of ending the season with a smile on his face.