Mustain Unplugged

Springdale quarterback Mitch Mustain - a former University of Arkansas commitment - talks to The Morning News of Northwest Arkansas reporter Kurt Voigt about the details behind his decision to explore his options.

Mitch Mustain had no intention of going public.

In fact, when the Springdale High quarterback met with University of Arkansas football coach Houston Nutt last Monday morning, he did so out of respect for both him and then Bulldogs coach Gus Malzahn.

Mustain, the Springdale senior who committed to the Razorbacks on Aug. 15, knew last weekend that Nutt was in negotiations to bring Malzahn on board to the Arkansas coaching staff. Knowing that, Mustain told his coach last Sunday evening of his decision to open his college recruitment back up.

It was an end of the season meeting between the two which had been planned for some time, and it was while gathering his thoughts leading up to the meeting that Mustain finalized his decision.

"He was pretty shocked," Mustain said of Malzahn on Sunday in his first public comments since reports of the meeting came out last Monday night. "I understood his reaction though. We hadn't talked about it in so long, since August, and I think he was under the impression that things were the same as in August.

"He was a little taken aback and didn't know what to say."

The following day, Mustain said Malzahn had recovered from his initial shock and had a plan, a plan which included telling Nutt.

So, that morning, Mustain met Nutt to tell him of his decision, something he said he needed to do as the coaches entered negotiations about Malzahn's possible future with the Razorbacks. It wasn't that Mustain wanted to demand anything of either -- he simply wanted them both to know what he was thinking, he said.

Following the meeting, word quickly began to leak its way to Internet message boards and reporters, several of whom tried to reach Mustain, Malzahn and his mother, Beck Campbell, at a surprise dinner that night which was honoring Mustain's selection as the Gatorade National Football Player of the Year.

The next day, Mustain was again honored for his selection -- this time in front of the Springdale student body and a bevy of media members all curious about Mustain's intentions following a Morning News article that morning which said he had withdrawn his commitment. However, no recruiting questions were allowed.

Later that evening, Mustain and his mother boarded a plane to New York where he was honored as a finalist for another national award -- leaving the frenzy behind, though the phone calls didn't stop.

"It's been pretty crazy," Mustain said."When we were in New York, I probably got 50 calls just in those three days.

"I don't answer unless I know who it is, and I'm in the mood to talk to them."

Now that he has returned, Mustain knows the questions about his future won't stop until national signing day in February. What he is hoping, however, is that people will understand his decision, one which he hopes to make privately before making it public.

Mustain understands why some would be upset about his decision to withdraw his commitment, but he said the situation with the Razorbacks has changed since he committed in August, resulting in his change.

"Out of respect for the people involved, I don't want to get into details about it," Mustain said.

However, he did say as rumors began spreading about a possible offensive coordinator being hired at Arkansas, he knew that likely meant the firing of former Razorbacks quarterbacks coach Roy Wittke, something which became official on Friday. It was while those rumors were spreading that Mustain began considering his options.

"I knew that if Coach Nutt was going to hire an offensive coordinator, regardless of who he chose, it would likely mean the firing of Coach Wittke," Mustain said of the coach who recruited him at Arkansas.

As for the people who are upset about the fact that he did commit in August, Mustain said at the time he did want to play for the Razorbacks,"but I feel like there's a lot of things that need to be resolved first. There's some things going on that I just don't feel comfortable with."

He admits to having been worn out on the recruiting process when he did commit in August, but insists that at the time he did want to play for Arkansas.

"I've always wanted to play for Arkansas," Mustain said."The farthest I've ever lived from the campus is 20 minutes, and at one point, for about three years, a five-minute walk from my house, near the square.

"At the same time, this is the biggest decision I have had to make in my life up to this point, and probably will make in some years, at least until I decide to get married, a long time from now."

The last time Mustain talked with Malzahn was Friday morning before the former Springdale coach was introduced as the new offensive coordinator for the Razorbacks. Malzahn can no longer comment on Mustain now that the quarterback is a recruit rather than his player.

Mustain has long admired his now former coach, but he said Malzahn's hiring with the Razorbacks won't affect his decision.

"I knew a long time ago that Coach Malzahn was probably going to be hired, but I didn't know what role he would have," Mustain said."Before he told me what his position would be, I had already made my decision.

"I felt that it was the right one, and I still do."

Mustain declined to say which schools he was now considering, again asking for privacy until he makes his decision.

National signing day is Feb. 1.

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