SPRINGDALE, Ark. - The long awaited announcement of Springdale quarterback Mitch Mustain finally came to fruition Monday at a 6 p.m. press conference when the five-star quarterback made a commitment to the University of Arkansas.
Mustain, 6-foot-3, 190 pounds, is rated the No. 13 overall prospect and the No. 2 quarterback in the nation by Rivals.com. He, along with teammate Andrew Norman, a 6-foot-2, 175-pound wide receiver, elected to stay fewer than 15 miles away from home in selecting the Hawgs. Mustain has 26 other scholarship offers, and Norman has five, total. Mustain is the most highly decorated quarterback to commit to Arkansas in the Houston Nutt era.
"First of all I want to thank the Lord, there is no doubt that is why I'm here," Mustain said. "I want to thank my mom and all of my coaches that helped me get here. I want to thank all of the coaches that offered me. I got to learn a lot and meet a lot of great people, with that being said I have decided to pledge for the University of Arkansas."
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The blue-chip signal-caller has offers from Clemson, Florida, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Iowa, Kansas, Louisville, LSU, Miami, Michigan, Michigan State, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Ole Miss, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Virginia and others, but the opportunities he saw at Arkansas sealed the deal for him.
"When I talked to coach Nutt, he was excited, I was excited, I think everyone was," Mustain said. "It took a lot of pressure off of him and of me. I think it took pressure of our shoulders so we can both focus on our seasons."
Much has been written about the 'Springdale Five' this year, and Mustain and Norman are the fourth and fifth of the quintet to make their intentions known. First, tight end Ben Cleveland opted for Florida over double-digit offers. Next came the anticipated pledge of offensive tackle Bartley Webb to the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame, again over double-digit offers. Then, four-star wideout Damian Williams decided to join Cleveland in Gainesville (Fla.).
Norman and Mustain are best friends, and no doubt Norman's pledge to Arkansas was affected by Mustain's decision. There was speculation that Norman would wait until after the season, but that is not the case.
"I want to thank my family and friends," Norman said. "Most of all I want to thank my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I want to thank coach Nutt and all the other coaches that gave me an opportunity to play for them and I have also chose to continue my career at the University of Arkansas."
Springdale head coach Gus Malzhan has had an experience unlike he has ever seen. In a recent interview, Malzahn said "this is my first rodeo."
However, Malzahn has handled the heavy media attention as well as anyone could – or should – expect. He hoped all his players would decide before August 23rd, the date of the team's Red-White Game so there would be no distractions heading into what should be a championship season. Malzahn got his wish.
"This has been a long process and this thing is finally coming to an end," Malzahn said. "These are our last two guys to commit, we are finally ready to get this behind us and focus on the season. It's been a long and complicated process and now it's time to get those over with."
When a big-time quarterback makes an early commitment, it oftentimes draws the attention of other big-name prospects to that school. Stay tuned to the HawgSports.com's Razorback commit list as this is shaping up to be a monster recruiting year for Arkansas.
Mustain combines a flawless throwing motion with impeccable accuracy and touch. He has a strong – not rifle- arm, and his passes are always tight spirals, normally thrown exactly where he intends them. Mustain's footwork is also excellent. Perhaps no quarterback in the country throws the deep ball with the accuracy of Mustain. The blue-chip quarterback also has wheels, and he has demonstrated them with several long runs last season. He has big-time upside, and that is another reason he is so highly regarded.
Norman started getting more attention during the spring evaluation period. His hands rank with the best in the nation, and his go-get-it attitude has kept the college coaches intrigued. Norman is the all-time leading receiver in Springdale football history, despite only being a junior.
Rivals.com's Jeremy Patterson on Mustain and Norman
"This is a huge day for the Arkansas nation," Patterson said. "Arkansas will now be able to build their class around the nation's top quarterback and the coaches can spend more time focusing on recruiting other prospects instead of using so much focus on Mustain.
Norman's announcement is somewhat overshadowed because of Mustain. Many rank him as the No. 5 prospect on this team, but I'm not so sure that he isn't the second best player on the team currently. He may not have the long term potential of some of the others, but from what I saw all I needed to see of him at the Hoover 7-on-7 to know that he's going to make Arkansas very happy."
Arkanas Commitment List
1. Freddie Barnett, 6-1, 305, DT, Trinity Valley (Texas) CC
2. Jim Hart, 6-6, 305, OT, Pocahontas (Ark.)
3. Chip Gregory, 6-3, 212, ATH, Carrollton (Texas) American Heritage
4. Myron McKinney, 6-4, 305, OG, Oklahoma City (Okla.) Putnam North
5. Torian Wilkins, 5-11, 185, ATH, Brookshire (Texas) Royal
6. Mitch Mustain, 6-3, 190, QB, Springdale (Ark.)
7. Andrew Norman, 6-2, 175, WR, Springdale (Ark.)
Prospect Video: Mitch Mustain Highlights
Prospect Video: Andrew Norman Highlights