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December 6, 2005

Instant Analysis: Mustain open?

The silence is deafening down in Springdale, Ark. as the nation's No. 2 quarterback, Mitch Mustain is apparently taking a look around after a commitment to the Arkansas Razorbacks and Houston Nutt this summer. So is Mustain de-committed? Will he end up elsewhere and who are the schools with the best chance?

Mustain, the 6-foot-2, 190-pounder who led Springdale to a state title this season, chose Arkansas over Texas, Note Dame and many others late in the summer. While everyone was keeping an eye on the situation at Arkansas, especially regarding Nutt, there was a collective sigh of relief when the head coach wasn't sent packing after a 4-7 season.

However, that wasn't the only thing Razorback fans were nervous about. They knew that once the focus was off Springdale's season and Mustain could concentrate on other things, mainly the attention he's attracted from others.

The stories are mixed, but either Mustain has kept contact with schools like Florida, Texas (before the Jevan Snead change of heart), Notre Dame and most recently Tennessee. So what will happen?

Arkansas quarterbacks coach Roy Wittke is apparently done at Arkansas, a move that has pushed Mustain into action. According to sources close to the situation, Mustain informed the Arkansas coaches that he was opening up his recruitment again. However, based on what we know, he has not officially de-committed.

So now that he's looking around, who will he look at? Many expect Notre Dame to be a top choice, but the Irish have Demetrius Jones and Zach Frazer already in the fold and an eye on Jimmy Clausen for next season. But the Irish were apparently the runner-up for his services in the summer and it has to be tempting for Charlie Weis to jump back into this fray.

South Carolina, who hasn't landed a marquee quarterback under Steve Spurrier as yet, will most likely be an option as well. They were never really in the mix initially, but a strong season under Spurrier and an attractive quarterback situation could draw Mustain.

Florida is also an option and a lot will depend on Tim Tebow's situation when he announces next week. Florida has told Tebow they're interested in taking two quarterbacks, but would Tebow push away Mustain or vice versa. Florida seems a longshot right now, but watch out for them if Tebow picks Alabama. Especially since teammates Ben Cleveland and Damian Williams are already commitments.

Don't forget Arkansas in still in this battle as well. Mustain committed there for a reason and it simply wasn't for the quarterback coach. Good friend Andrew Norman is also committed and Arkansas is home.

Another interesting twist is that Springdale head coach Gus Malzahn has been mentioned as a potential replacement for Wittke.

There is also ample opportunity early and Mustain has to be interested in teaming with Darren McFadden in that backfield. Arkansas won't give up easily.

The surprise team in this mix, and a team I'd be worried about if I were an Arkansas fan, is Tennessee. The hiring of David Cutcliffe, who has developed Peyton and Eli Manning among others, is a huge attraction to Mustain and his family. You wonder why Arkansas was the team trying to steal Cutcliffe away from Tennessee? Cutcliffe was also a huge reason for Mustain's interest in Notre Dame before he stepped down and the Tennessee quarterback situation is in shambles.

Whatever happens, it will likely happen without comment from the Mustains. Beck Campbell had no comment on the situation when contacted and was upset at some of the printed reports. She would not confirm nor deny if Mustain was de-committed.



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