Vols Gain on Mustain?

SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS - While Texas celebrates its first national title in 35 years, the Tennessee Vols are in the Lone Star State looking to land their first five-star prospect in the Class of 2006.

Tennessee offensive coordinator David Cutcliffe is expected to be in San Antonio on Thursday, and one of the players he will have an intense interest in is Mitch Mustain, who is not only a five-star prospect but the No. 1 rated quarterback in the country and national player of the year.

As a senior, Mustain led Springdale High School to an undefeated 14-0 record and top five ranking. He originally committed to home state Arkansas before deciding last month to explore his options further. He has been most closely connected to Notre Dame and Tennessee with Alabama becoming a late sweepstakes entry.

While UT has been something of a dark horse where Mustain is concerned, he is known to be impressed with the job Cutcliffe mentoring the Mannings as well as refining the skills of Heath Shuler and Tee Martin.

The coach and QB have developed a relationship since Mustain first looked into Notre Dame last winter when Cutcliffe was on Charlie Weis' staff. They renewed the relationship when Cutcliffe accepted the offer to return to his duties as offensive coordinator at Tennessee, where he coached until accepting the head coaching job at Ole Miss in 1998.

There are recent indications Notre Dame may not commit another quarterback with three already in the fold for 2006 and Tennessee could emerge as a strong contender especially if Arkansas is indeed, as speculation has it is, out of the race.

Naturally, such a scenario would elevate Alabama?s chances, and the Crimson Tide is losing senior starter Brodie Croyle.

Even if Mustain doesn't decide to visit or commit to Tennessee, the Vols could boast a five-star prospect if Jacques McClendon continues to impress at defensive tackle the way he has through midweek at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl workouts.

Rated a four-star prospect and the nation's No. 11 O-line prospect by Scout.com, McClendon is showing that he could excel on either side of the ball with his quickness, toughness and impressive strength. More on that and other prospects in our next installment from deep in the heart of Texas where the big burnt orange reigns supreme.


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