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January 15, 2006While Springdale, Ark. quarterback Mitch Mustain has decided to keep his recruiting plans a bit quiet, rumors have been flying everywhere linking the nation's No. 2 signal caller to Notre Dame. Now it seems there is good news for fans of Arkansas, Tennessee and Alabama as Notre Dame is not a player in the Mustain sweepstakes. It could also be good news for Irish fans.
Sources indicate that Notre Dame will not go on Mustain for many different reasons. The 6-foot-3, 208-pounder hasn't had an offer from Weis since the head coach took a commitment from Chicago stud Demetrius Jones. Jones was the second quarterback to commit to the Irish during the summer joining Pennsylvania slinger Zach Frazer. Weis told both players he was only taking two quarterbacks and is apparently sticking to that word.
Many sources cite that Notre Dame would be the choice for Mustain if the Irish were to come back with an offer. However, that isn't going to happen. The commitment Weis made to his two quarterbacks is a strong one and while the Gatorade Player of the Year has to be tempting, it's now a race between Tennessee, Alabama and Arkansas.
So how is this good news for Irish fans? First, it shows that their new head coach has as much integrity as expected to hold such a prestigious job. Second, this news comes a day after Notre Dame's Junior Day held in South Bend, Ind. on Saturday. Not coincidentally, 2007 super recruit Jimmy Clausen was on hand for the day. The California stud is the top quarterback target for 2007 for Weis and company and it wouldn't be a stretch to think that the Irish feel good about their position with Clausen.
Many programs have been using the Mustain situation against Notre Dame in efforts to lure away Jones and Frazer. Mustain will be notified Sunday that he should look in a different direction than Notre Dame and the Irish have continued to recruit both Jones and Frazer throughout this process.
For Clausen, the Notre Dame situation looks a lot better with just two quarterbacks in the mix from the 2006 class, especially with only one (Frazer) being a true drop-back passer. Had Mustain entered the fray, it would have certainly hurt ND's chances with Clausen.
So where does Mustain look now? Arkansas is always a safe option with his former head coach Gus Malzahn in charge of the offense. After running a different offense in San Antonio, Tex. and having a poor U.S. Army All American Bowl, perhaps familiarity will win out for Houston Nutt and company.
Tennessee has to be considered the bigger threat than Alabama simply because quarterbacks coach David Cutcliffe is on board. Cutcliffe was one of the main reasons Mustain was originally interested in Notre Dame and has a great track record with quarterbacks.
However, Alabama has immediate playing time available either as a starter or backup. Brodie Croyle is gone, Marc Gullion has not worked out and John Parker Wilson has good upside but no experience. If Mustain picked Arkansas for a clear path to the starting job back in the summer, Alabama's path is even more clear.
Whichever way this shakes out it certainly looks as though the best quarterback in SEC country will be staying in the SEC.