Mustain relieved after recommitting to Arkansas

Tuesday, January 17th 2006, 9:28 pm
By: News On 6

LITTLE ROCK (AP) _ Arkansas can rest easy.

Mitch Mustain plans to be a Razorback next season, and this time, it sounds like his decision is final.

``It feels awesome,'' Mustain said. ``To have a normal life back and to actually know for certain _ it's a great feeling.''

Mustain was in Little Rock for KATV's presentation of the Landers Award on Tuesday, one night after he'd told The Morning News of Springdale about his long-awaited decision. Mustain, considered one of the nation's top recruits, announced in August he would attend Arkansas. But he reopened his recruitment last month after the end of his high school season.

Mustain later said he'd narrowed his list of schools to four: Arkansas, Notre Dame, Tennessee and Alabama _ and that all four would be in the running through the final few weeks of the recruiting season. National signing day is Feb. 1.

But last Friday, Mustain talked to members of the Razorbacks' coaching staff, and the meeting went well enough to win him over _ again.

``I met with their staff and felt great about it. I really did,'' he said. ``Better than I thought I would. I talked to them the last couple days and finally just decided that that was where I needed to be.''

Mustain was planning to make official visits to two of the four schools on his list _ he'd already decided Notre Dame would be one of them.

``I'm not doing that anymore,'' he said.

Mustain threw for 3,817 yards and 47 touchdowns this season, leading Springdale to a 14-0 record and the Class AAAAA state championship. He actually finished second to teammate Damian Williams for the Landers Award as Arkansas' top player. Williams had 1,495 yards receiving and 24 touchdowns, and also rushed for 446 yards and 10 touchdowns.

But the national awards favored Mustain _ he was named Parade Magazine player of the year and Gatorade player of the year.

Now, Mustain will try to revive an Arkansas passing game that struggled for most of 2005. The Razorbacks went 4-7, averaging 216.9 yards rushing per game but only 143.7 yards passing.

Last month, Arkansas hired Springdale coach Gus Malzahn as offensive coordinator, so Mustain will be working with a familiar face. His top competition at quarterback appears to be Casey Dick, who started the last four games as a freshman and threw for 584 yards and seven touchdowns.

``I'm going to go in and compete for the job,'' Mustain said. ``If they think I need to get it, then I'll do it. If not, then I'll be more than happy to sit back.''

Mustain said he's ready to enjoy his new, calmer life _ he said the first day at school after the announcement was a breath of fresh air.

``It was a relief,'' Mustain said. ``I've got friends _ just my football guys _ that have been wanting me to go to Arkansas. So they were, you know, high-fives and hugs and this and that. But other than that, it was normal.''