FAYETTEVILLE — Senior quarterback Brandon Mitchell is leaving the Arkansas football program.
Arkansas coach Bret Bielema announced that Mitchell has been granted a release from his scholarship along with receiver/running back Keante Minor, defensive end Austin Flynn and safety Defonta Lowe. Bielema said the releases were granted after post-spring meetings with every member of the football team were completed.
“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 in a news release. “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.”
Mitchell’s departure is the biggest news. It comes two weeks after he was listed as the No. 2 quarterback on the post-spring depth chart behind Brandon Allen.
Mitchell – who came to Arkansas as a quarterback and spent most of 2012 as a wide receiver — competed with Allen for the starting job this spring. He worked with the second-team offense throughout practices and Bielema afterward he planned to discuss with Mitchell the possibility of helping in other roles next fall.
Mitchell — who was sitting in the room when Bielema mentioned the plan — didn’t sound open to the idea during a post-spring press conference. He said it was the first time it had been mentioned to him since his return to the position.
“That’s something I haven’t gave any thought at all,” Mitchell said. “It hasn’t been on my mind at all. I’ve just been focusing on playing quarterback. …
“I just want to play quarterback.”
Mitchell completed 23 of 45 passes for 332 yards in three seasons as a backup quarterback. He did enjoy success at receiver last season, catching 17 passes for 272 yards in eight games. Mitchell was suspended four games for violating team rules.
The Amite, La., native, who also spent parts of two seasons with the Arkansas basketball team, could not be reached for comment Monday afternoon.
But Mitchell’s departure leaves Allen as the only quarterback with SEC experience on Arkansas’ roster. Transfer A.J. Derby enters the summer as the second-team quarterback, while incoming freshmen Austin Allen and Damon Mitchell will likely get opportunities to help immediately when they arrive on campus.