Ever since the post-spring depth chart came out, several Arkansas Razorbacks fans wrote in to ask what role Brandon Mitchell would have on offense this year. Whether it’s quarterback, receiver, or some combination of the two, Mitchell will be a key contributor to the Hogs’ success on offense in 2013.
Make no mistake about it, Brandon Allen is the clear-cut starter heading into the fall. Bret Bielema raved about Allen’s performance all spring, calling his last two weeks of practice “exceptional”. However, it’s worth noting that Bielema stopped short of saying that Mitchell would move to another position telling the Arkansas News:
“…I don’t want him to stop playing quarterback. I want him to stay right where he’s at.”
So what does this statement actually mean?
That’s tough to say. At first glance, it would appear that Bielema is leaving the competition open at quarterback. Sure, Allen has the lead heading into preseason camp, but there are a lot of things that can happen before the opening kickoff against the Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns. Given Mitchell’s athleticism, it’s certainly possible that the coaches will decide that he’s the better option as they install more than just the generic version of the offense.
On the other hand, Bielema might have meant that he’s going to keep Mitchell as the backup quarterback but also work him into the game plan as a receiver. After all, Mitchell did well as wide out last season, averaging more yards per game than any of the receivers currently on the roster. At 6’ 4” 239, with a 4.64 40, he will present all sorts of matchup problems for opposing linebackers and safeties.
If I had to guess, I’d say that we’ll see Mitchell at both positions this year. Based on Bielema’s comments throughout the spring, it seems like Allen’s a virtual lock to win the job because he makes fewer mistakes. With Allen under center, the Hogs would be foolish not to take advantage of Mitchell’s unique blend of size and speed in the passing game. They could also use him as a weapon under center in Wildcat/short yardage packages because the defense would have to respect his skills as a runner and a passer.
So while no one knows what role Mitchell will play in the Razorbacks offense, one thing is certain: he’ll be a key contributor to its success.
Terry Johnson is a college football writer for Rant Sports and a member of the Football Writers Association of America. Follow him on Twitter @TPJCollFootball, like him on Facebook and/or add him to your network on Google+