Matt Jones is the online sports editor for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and Northwest Arkansas Newspapers.
QB Mitchell leaving Arkansas
Arkansas quarterback Brandon Mitchell walks off the field following the Razorbacks' 52-0 loss to Alabama on Sept. 15, 2012 at Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE Quarterback Brandon Mitchell is one of four players who will transfer from Arkansas, coach Bret Bielema said Monday.
Mitchell, receiver/running back Keante Minor, defensive end Austin Flynn and safety Defonta Lowe were officially given scholarship releases by the Razorbacks. Mitchell, a redshirt senior, had finished spring practices as the back-up quarterback on Arkansas' depth chart.
“Through meetings with these student-athletes, a determination was made that it would be mutually beneficial for them to pursue their goals elsewhere," Bielema said. "Brandon is on track to earn his degree this summer and utilize the NCAA graduate transfer exception to play immediately this fall. We fully support them and wish them all the best moving forward.”
Brandon Mitchell Statement
"Today is a bitter sweet day for my family and I. I'm grateful for the opportunity that Arkansas has given me over the last four years. We became a family and had great moments as well as tough times. I've learned a lot about myself and realize that sometimes things and circumstances change. At this time I'd like to say thank you dearly to all of my fans & The Razorback Nation for all of your support, professionalism, and prayers. I leave behind some of the BEST MEN I have ever known in my Razorback teammates. I could have never asked to play with a better group of guys! I will truly miss the relationships and brotherhood I have personally and collectively as a team with each and everyone of you! I'm beginning a new journey and looking forward to seeing where It leads me. God is and has always been in control of my life. All things work together for the good of them who love The Lord. I also would like to thank my entire family for always supporting me in every aspect of my life! Without you all none of this would have ever been possible! My parents Bobby & Margaret Mitchell, my brother & sister Kedrien and Keshia along with my grandparents, have all help me make this tough decision to leave a great organization, school, and family behind and further my academic as well as my football career at another prestigious institution. Again I want to say thank you to all the Razorback Nation for helping me become the young man I am today. I wish nothing but the best for the University of Arkansas and I appreciate their professionalism throughout this entire process. God Bless!"
Mitchell played in eight games last season as a receiver, recording 17 catches for 272 yards. He played quarterback sparingly in a loss to Alabama and threw a touchdown pass from his receiver position in a win over Auburn. The Amite, La. native was suspended for four games for a violation of team rules.
He practiced behind Brandon Allen at quarterback during spring practices, working mostly with the Razorbacks' reserves. Asked following spring drills if he would consider a move back to receiver, Mitchell said not likely.
“I talked with Coach once he first got here, and he asked me what position I want to play and I just told him ‘strictly quarterback,'" Mitchell said last month. "That’s nothing that has come up between us. So I really don’t know where to go from there.
“With the competition not being over at quarterback, I’m just focused on strictly quarterback. I don’t even want to consider anything else right now. My mind’s on quarterback.”
Mitchell didn't return phone calls seeking comment on Monday, but did post a message on his Facebook page that read in part, "I want to say thank you to all the Razorback Nation for helping me become the young man I am today. I wish nothing but the best for the University of Arkansas and I appreciate their professionalism throughout this entire process. God Bless!"
In three seasons, Mitchell completed 23 of 45 passes for 332 yards. He rushed for two touchdowns from the quarterback position, but never started a game under center.
Mitchell also played basketball two seasons for Arkansas, last during the 2011-12 season.
While it remains unclear where Mitchell will transfer, he has connections at several FBS schools. His former offensive coordinators, Garrick McGee and Paul Petrino, are head coaches at UAB and Idaho, respectively, while former Razorbacks head coach Bobby Petrino is entering his first season at Western Kentucky.
Bielema had previously announced Flynn and Lowe would transfer, though their releases weren't finalized until Monday. Minor, a sophomore, had been used a reserve running back during spring practices after playing receiver last season.