LITTLE ROCK — Arkansas got second-leading receiver Chris Gragg back on the field for the first time since the Rutgers game on Sept. 22 on Saturday. But the Razorbacks were without one of their top receivers in the 30-27 loss to Ole Miss.
Junior Brandon Mitchell did not play because of a “violation of team rules.”
Arkansas announced the news in a two-paragraph press release before the game and coach John L. Smith provided few other details about Mitchell’s absence during his postgame press conference.
“Let’s just let that sit,” Smith said when asked if Mitchell would return this season. “We anticipate yes. But I don’t … we’ll have more answers for you on that.”
Smith also was asked if Mitchell’s absence was related to an NCAA eligibility issue and said “it’s a team rule at this point.” Smith repeated the sentence when asked if Arkansas’ compliance office was involved in Mitchell’s suspension.
Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long also declined comment regarding Mitchell’s status when approached at halftime.
Mitchell is Arkansas’ third leading receiver witch 15 catches for 257 yards. He’s also the team’s third-string quarterback, completing 2 of 8 passes for 45 yards and a touchdown. Mitchell threw a 26-yard touchdown pass to receiver Javontee Herndon on a trick play to help Arkansas wrap up its first SEC win at Auburn.
Arkansas junior Cobi Hamilton caught 12 passes for 146 yards to lead the Razorbacks in receiving Saturday. Only two other wide receivers — Julian Horton (3 catches, 30 yards) and Javontee Herndon (one catch, 18 yards) — caught passes.
Hamilton said Mitchell practiced with the team this week, but received limited repetitions. He said it was an early indication Mitchell wouldn’t play Saturday.
“You really miss his vocal leadership. That big, strong deep voice. You just kind of miss him on the sideline. He’s just a great leader vocally. He’s a great player,” Hamilton said. “I’m sure he hated watching in Fayetteville, watching and not being here. So I know he’ll be excited to come to practice Tuesday and get back to work.”