Mr. All-American

In this story by Hawgs Illustrated's Dudley E. Dawson, recruiting analyst sums up what he has seen in practice this week from Springdale quarterback Mitch Mustain, who will start today for the West in the U.S. Army All American Bowl in San Antonio.

SAN ANTONIO - Just a few hours before a former University of Arkansas quarterback gets a chance to do his thing for the first time in the NFL playoffs, Razorback fans hope a future one will be taking center stage in the Alamodome.

That would be one Mitch Mustain (6-3, 210), Springdale's nationally top-ranked quarterback who will be the starting signal caller for the West in today's U.S. Army All-American Bowl and who reportedly has the Razorbacks back at the top of his list.

The game features 78 of the nation's top high school prospects, will be nationally televised by NBC at noon and will be the culmination of a week of practice in San Antonio in which Mustain has thoroughly impressed recruiting analyst Scott Kennedy.

"With being the number one quarterback as he is on, there is a big bulls-eye on his back and has been all season and he has lived up to that potential this week in practice," Kennedy said. "Some guys kind of live up to it, some do not. He has handled it very humbly, which is important because some of these guys walk around with the big head and act like they are rock stars, but he is one that goes out to earn people respects and in turn he gets it."

Mustain - who will be backed up by Texas commit Jevan Sneed - and Springdale offensive lineman Bartley Webb, who is committed to Notre Dame, are the only two Arkansas natives in game that features some 40 Parade All-Americans.

Mustain, who was named the player of the year by Parade, USA Today and Gatorade to name a few, threw for over 3,800 yards this season with 47 touchdowns and just six interceptions while leading his team to a 14-0 mark and Class AAAAA state championship.

"It looked like the coaches had already seen flim of the guy and predestined their starter because Mitch was the first one out leading drills and his team has been circling around him all week," Kennedy said. "He is a great leader and we have put up enough film of him on that everybody in the country should know what he could do with the ball in his hands. He has been accurate and he has been everything you expect the number one quarterback in the country to be."

Mustain, who has Arkansas, Alabama, Tennessee and Notre Dame on his list at last report, will matchup today with East starting quarterback Tim Tebow, who is headed to Florida.

Arkansas fans are looking at him as someone with the ability to effect a game like Matt   Jones, the former UA quarterback who is a rookie wideout for Jacksonville, which plays tonight at New England in the NFL playoffs.

"I think Mitch needs to get a little bigger to make the kind of impact he will eventually in college," Kennedy said. "Just because he has five starts next to his name doesn't mean he is going to be a superstar and he still has to get the right development and coaching, but he looks like he is a guy that can really elevate a team and a program and take them to the next level."

Webb (6-7, 294) committed to Notre Dame before the season started and has stuck to it.

"He really has the biggest adjustment to make," Kennedy said. "I heard Richard Pryor talking about Muhammed Ali one time and he said he trains going backward because that's the way he fights. That's how Bartley has done things, too. His first five steps have been backward all his life because that is how his team played.

"He will have an adjustment period where he will learn to go forward and lateral more, but I think he has some potential, is a hard-working kid and he'll be fine."

Kennedy, also for the national junior combine that goes on today and Sunday, thinks the East squad probably has more talent than the West, but gives the edge today to the latter.

"I think the East does have more talent than the West, but I have said it 100 times - you don't have to have the best talent to win, you just have to have enough talent," Kennedy said. "And that's why I think the West is going to kick their butt.

"The West's practices have been more crisp, they have been more lively and I watched a guy get his ankle tape and he got his ankle tape with more enthusiasm than I have seen at the East practices the whole week," Kennedy said. "That's why I think the West will win easily."

Arkansas, which added Springdale tight end Ben Cleveland Friday to its commit list that also includes wideout Andrew Nornamn now numbers 11,, hopes to keep it going by adding Mustain and Springdale wideout Damian Williams, currently committed to Florida.

"They get all four of those guys and they are off and running," Kennedy said. "That would be a great, great haul."

Springdale quarterback Mitch Mustain throws a pass earlier this week in practice for today's U.S. Army All-American Bowl.

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