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.
Mitchell has posted a lengthy statement on his Facebook page. Here is the complete post:
"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!"