In Another Surprise, Mustain Asks For Release

FAYETTEVILLE -- Mitch Mustain wasn't in class when Arkansas' spring semester began Tuesday, and the freshman packed up his dorm room later in the day.

Like former offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn, Mustain has decided to leave Arkansas. The quarterback's abrupt departure is just another in a bizarre series of events for the Razorbacks over the past few days.

Arkansas coach Houston Nutt said Tuesday that Mustain has asked for a release from his scholarship, giving the former Springdale High star the chance to transfer to another school.

Nutt said he has granted Mustain his release, though Nutt was holding out hope that the highly recruited freshman would remain with the Razorbacks -- as unlikely as it seems.

"Naturally, I don't want him to go," Nutt said in an impromptu news conference on Tuesday afternoon. "I want him to stay here, but also we want the (players) that really want to be here. So I've given him his release, now let's just see (what happens)."

But all indications are that Mustain has made up his mind to leave Arkansas after only one season with the team. Players traditionally don't ask for a release from their scholarship unless they plan to transfer to another school.

Meanwhile, Patricia Brandkamp -- Mustain's grandmother -- criticized the way Nutt treated her grandson during an interview aired Tuesday evening on KNWA, a local NBC affiliate.

Attempts to reach Mustain were unsuccessful, and Beck Campbell -- Mustain's mother -- didn't want to comment about her son's future when contacted on Tuesday evening.

But there has been speculation that Mustain could join Malzahn at Tulsa. Oklahoma and Louisville have also been mentioned as possible options.

Nutt said Mustain didn't indicate to him where the former starting quarterback was thinking about transferring to when the two met Tuesday.

"He wanted a release. I've granted the release. Has he told me for sure he's transferring? No," Nutt said. "So we'll just have to wait."

Mustain asked for his release a day after Malzahn -- who was Mustain's coach at Springdale High -- made the surprising announcement that he was leaving Arkansas to accept a position as assistant head coach and co-offensive coordinator at the University of Tulsa.

Malzahn's decision to leave came after he was told by Nutt that his role on the team was going to change, and that there were plans for him to share the offensive coordinator position with former Arkansas quarterbacks coach David Lee.

Coincidentally, Tuesday marked the one-year anniversary of when Mustain announced his decision to sign with Arkansas after initially backing out of his commitment.

Losing Malzahn and Mustain leaves the Razorbacks without an offensive coordinator, as well as without their star quarterback.

"I'm not frustrated right now. I know how difficult it is," Nutt said. "I know how hard college football can be."

Nutt said no player other than Mustain has asked for a release from his scholarship, including tight end Ben Cleveland.

Cleveland was Mustain's teammate at Springdale High, and the two of them briefly considered transferring in December after wide receiver Damian Williams announced his decision to leave.

Nutt said Cleveland was in Kansas on Tuesday, attending a friend's funeral. Rick Cleveland, Ben's father, said Monday that his son was still enrolled at Arkansas for the spring semester.

"I've told all the players, if they want their release, we'll grant their release," Nutt said. "I just want guys that want to be here, and hopefully (Mustain will) be here. But I don't know for sure."

Mustain, considered the most decorated recruit to ever sign with the Razorbacks, started eight games as a freshman -- winning all of them.

But he was benched in favor of sophomore Casey Dick after throwing an interception on his first pass attempt in a 26-20 win at South Carolina on Nov. 4.

Mustain never regained the starting job, and he played sparingly over Arkansas' final five games. He completed 69 of 132 passes for 894 yards with 10 touchdowns and nine interceptions.


July, 2004

Mitch Mustain is offered a scholarship by Arkansas coach Houston Nutt. The offer comes more than a month before Mustain, a junior at Springdale High, ever starts his first varsity football game for the Bulldogs.

Nov. 26, 2004

Mustain breaks his right arm in the second quarter of Springdale's season-ending loss to Little Rock Central in the semifinals of the Class AAAAA state playoffs. Mustain finishes his first season as starter with 2,164 yards through the air, as well as 34 total touchdowns (20 passing, 14 rushing).

Aug. 15, 2005

After a whirlwind recruitment by many of the top colleges across the country, Mustain announces at a televised news conference that he has committed to Arkansas.

Dec. 3, 2005

With Mustain at the helm, Springdale defeats West Memphis 54-20 to cap a 14-0 season and win the school's first state championship since 1989. Mustain finishes the season 190 of 270 (70.4 percent) passing for 3,817 yards and 47 touchdowns with just six interceptions.

Dec. 5, 2005

Mustain, on the same day he withdraws his commitment to Arkansas in a meeting with Nutt, is named the Gatorade National Prep Football Player of the Year. It's the first of several national awards earned by Mustain.

Jan. 16, 2006

After thinking about signing with Notre Dame, Mustain elects to recommit to Arkansas. He follows former Springdale coach Gus Malzahn, who the month before was named offensive coordinator for the Razorbacks.

Sept. 2, 2006

With Arkansas trailing late in the fourth quarter against Southern California in its season opener, Mustain enters the game to a roaring ovation from the home crowd. He then leads the Razorbacks to a quick touchdown and is named the starter the following day.

Nov. 4, 2006

Mustain, after having helped Arkansas to seven straight wins, is pulled after throwing an interception on his only attempt at South Carolina.

Dec. 13, 2007

Mustain's high school teammate Damian Williams is granted his release from Arkansas, prompting speculation about Mustain's future. For his part, Mustain says his is a Razorback "for now."

Jan. 1, 2007

Mustain sees significant action for the first time since the South Carolina game in Arkansas' loss to Wisconsin in the Capital One Bowl. He finishes his freshman season by completing 69 of 132 (52.3 percent) of his passes for 894 with 10 touchdowns and nine interceptions.

Jan. 15, 2007

Malzahn is named the new assistant head coach and co-offensive coordinator at Tulsa.

Jan. 16, 2007

Mustain asks for, and is eventually granted his release by Nutt from Arkansas.

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