But Will He Play?

By Adam Caparell - May 22, 2007

The highly touted, highly recruited, much ballyhooed lightening rod for controversy, and, most importantly, former Arkansas quarterback Mitch Mustain is now officially a USC Trojan. So now that his highly publicized divorce with the Razorbacks and the Houston Nutt regime is over and done with, it's time to get to the important question at hand? Will he actually play in L.A.?

It's an interesting question considering the glut of talent Pete Carroll and USC have stockpiled at quarterback, just like every other position for the Trojans, and it's one that might unfortunately produce the undesired result for Mustain.

"There's a lot of signs in this that could point to disaster for Mitch," CSTV recruiting expert Tom Lemming said.

Mustain will have to sit out this upcoming season due to NCAA transfer rules and when he's eligible to play next year, he'll find himself behind John David Booty's logical successor, Mark Sanchez, who many consider to be the best backup in the country. Sanchez is only a sophomore and has been subject to plenty of high and lofty expectations himself. He's the next in line who by the time next spring rolls around will have had three years of the USC system under his belt.

Two other sophomores dot the USC roster, but Garrett Green and Jon Breuer won't see the light of day Carroll prays.

The Trojans will also welcome this summer Aaron Corp, one of the highest rated QBs in this year's recruiting class out of Orange, Calif. who has a strong arm and could fit in nicely in the Trojans passing game down the road.

"He had a fantastic senior season and he's also going to be in the mix with Mustain as a pure passer," Lemming said.

So, basically when you break it down, Mustain is no given to ever even see a snap at USC. If Sanchez plays up to his capabilities and firmly plants himself as the de facto starter following Booty's graduation, Mustain may only be looking at one year of starting under center. That's if he can beat out Corp, or whoever Carroll and the Trojans bring aboard in their upcoming recruiting classes.

"He's going to face some stiff competition," Lemming said. "He's a kid who's not used to sitting on the bench, but he's going to have sit a couple of years behind Sanchez."

There's no doubt that Mustain transferred to the best program in the country and what's becoming "the best program in country now for quarterbacks," according to Lemming, but it was a very interesting decision on his part.

"Usually when you get a high profile, great quarterback like that he transfers to a situation where he's 100 percent the quarterback when he's eligible," Lemming said. "This is one of the few times when I've seen a great quarterback leave and get into a mix where he may not be a starter for three years."

So if Sanchez pans out the way everyone expects, that leaves Mustain with just his senior season to play and Lemming thinks it's a toss-up between him and Corp in terms of ability. And all things being equal, why wouldn't USC go with the kid from Southern California. They've had plenty of success with locals guys in the past.

Clearly, Mustain would have been better off taking his skills to Texas Tech, UTEP or Tulsa - where his high school coach and offensive coordinator, Gus Malzahn, now works. Those were the three schools who were considered to be among the most likely to land him and he would have been the guy at those schools, just waiiting to step in to the starting job once he was eligible to play again.

But if there's one thing you have to give Mustain credit for, it's showing the confidence - and dare we say ego - to take his skills to USC where the bench will likely become his familiar spot on the field for the next several years.

An interesting point Lemming brought up that makes Mustain's decision to transfer a little juicer is maybe Mustain got word - through whomever - that Sanchez isn't the kind of quarterback the Trojans were hoping he'd be. Don't forget, Sanchez had that run-in with the law last year. Those charges of sexual assault were dropped, but the stigma of being in trouble will hang over him.

And maybe Sanchez won't be able to take the pressure when it's finally his team and he'll falter and Carroll will make a move. The only problem is Mustain may not be the clear No. 2 guy in the program then. Depending on Corp, Mustain could very well be No. 3 when he's finally eligible.

"It's a great program to go to if you're the starter, but it's a calculated risk if you're going to have to sit for three years," Lemming said.

Three years for one season. That's the possibility staring Mustain in the face right now. And that one season is no guarantee. Let's hope he really likes Southern California because if he wasn't happy sitting down at Arkansas how miserable will he be at USC?

Posted by Adam Caparell at 10:18 AM on May 22, 2007
Comments (4)


Very well said. I expect Beck Campbell (Mustain's mom) to be on the phone with Pete Carroll most of the season. This was a mistake for Mitch; he'll be further down on the bench playing here. If he needed to transfer, why not Texas Tech, or Hawaii? He wouldn't have to wait long to get playing time, and he'd be getting his yards, that's for sure.

Beck Campbell called Nutt one time all year so put that crap to bed....I hope the young man succeeds he has shown nothing but class in this whole mess.Better than the adults have done...

Not so shocking that Tom "Domer Humper" Lemming has anything good about Mustain going to USC.

Lemming's a Homer Domer to the core. He's PO'ed cuz Mustain gave the Irish the finger and this is way of payback.

Mustain will have the same chance to play as all Trojans - the old fashioned way ... he'll have to earn it.

Hey, Tommy-boy why don't you worry about ND and let Pete worry about USC?

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