Cleveland Switches Commitment To Arkansas

SPRINGDALE -- While rumors swirled about Springdale quarterback Mitch Mustain's future, one of Mustain's Red'Dogs teammates decided to make a change in his college plans.

Ben Cleveland, Springdale's tight end who initially committed to Florida prior to his senior season, said Friday he would play for Arkansas.

"I'm committed to Arkansas," Cleveland said. "I decided this two days ago. I wanted to play for coach (Gus) Malzahn. I trusted him and everything that he said. I just know that Arkansas could be a championship contender soon."

Cleveland made his decision public after returning from Shreveport, La., where he played in the Max Emfinger All-American Bowl Game Classic on Thursday. Cleveland said he hoped the three players in the Springdale Five who are not committed to Arkansas would wind up joining him in Fayetteville.

"We'll try our best to see what we can do," Cleveland said of trying to get his other Springdale teammates to join him at Arkansas.

The highest profile teammate of Cleveland's is Mustain, whose future is up in the air. Red'Dogs receiver Andrew Norman is already committed to the Razorbacks.

Mustain initially committed to the Razorbacks before reopening his recruitment after leading the Red'Dogs to the Class AAAAA state championship.

The coach of that team was Malzahn, who was hired shortly after the season as Arkansas' offensive coordinator, promising to bring his hurry-up, no-huddle offense to the Razorbacks.

Cleveland said Malzahn was the primary reason he switched his commitment and that he looked forward to playing in an offense like the one he played in for the Red'Dogs.

While recruits changing their commitments has been a theme for the Razorbacks this recruiting season, this is the first one to favor Arkansas.

Mustain's decision to "reopen his recruitment" has been the most high profile. He is still considering Arkansas, while also looking into Notre Dame, Tennessee and Alabama. He also said this week from San Antonio, where he will play in today's U.S. Army All-American Bowl, that he would consider taking an official visit to Army.

Television reports Friday indicated Mustain could be close to a decision.

Arkansas also recently lost another commitment, when Oklahoma City Putnam North offensive lineman Myron McKinney changed his commitment from Arkansas to Oklahoma State.

Another of the "Springdale Five" --wide receiver Damian Williams -- said Friday he remained committed to Florida, while reports said that Williams would meet with Arkansas coaches over the weekend.

"That's fine," Williams said of Cleveland's decision, which he was informed of Thursday. "I'm happy for him. He needs to make the best decision for him. I'm still solid to Florida, though."

Another Springdale player, offensive lineman Bartley Webb, is committed to Notre Dame. Mustain and Webb are in San Antonio, where they will play in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl today.

College coaches can not comment on recruits until they sign. National signing day is Feb. 1.

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