Arkansas Razorback Rundown: Hogs Get a Quarterback on the Hardwood
The Arkansas Razorback basketball team has enough off-the-court issues documented that I could write about them non-stop, but the positives seem to keep slipping through the cracks.
When it comes to the Hogs, I like bringing the positives to everyone, and the latest positive to happen for the Hog basketball team is the addition of Brandon Mitchell.
Mitchell was a highly sought-after basketball prospect in high school, and committed to play for John Brady and LSU as a sophomore in high school. The firing of Brady at LSU sent Mitchell in a different direction with his college choices.
Ultimately, Mitchell decided his best opportunity was to come to Arkansas and play for Coach Bobby Petrino in working to be a future NFL quarterback.
Even with Mitchell joining the basketball team for this season and red-shirting in football, he has made it clear he is a quarterback first.
He is excited to join the basketball team and work to help them improve and sees his quarterback experience as a positive he can bring to the court.
Quarterbacks Coach Garrick McGee spoke this week about how athletically and intellectually gifted of a person Mitchell is on the football field and in meeting rooms.
McGee and Petrino both spoke about how much Mitchell will play into the future plans of Arkansas football, and how they believe he can help the Razorback basketball program with his talent and ability on the court this season.
Monday in the first exhibition game of the season Mitchell was dressed out but never logged any time. Pelphrey spoke about Mitchell following Monday's game, and it was known then that Mitchell would be joining the team but had not been cleared from his surgery yet.
Many questions remained after the game, and still many do but Mitchell and the football coaches as discussed have worked to make it all clear. Mitchell is a future quarterback for the University of Arkansas Razorbacks.
Pelphrey received a early Christmas present out of this whole deal. Mitchell had surgery a little over three weeks ago on a sports hernia and was just cleared Wednesday to participate. He practiced with the football team and then shortly after made his first appearance on the court for the Hogs' basketball team.
Thursday in this first on the court appearance Mitchell showed why he had been a highly recruited basketball player. He played eight minutes and logged eight points.
The most memorable came on his first score when he stole the ball around half court and took it the other way finishing it off with a two-hand slam that got the entire Hogs' bench on their feet.
Mitchell was also 4-of-4 from the free throw line and brought a defensive spark into the game with him. He has practiced with the team for less than a week, but when asked about him Coach Pelphrey and current players all ooze with optimism.
Pelphrey made it clear Mitchell is behind on schemes and things, but that if put into a position to make an athletic play he has confidence Mitchell will get it done.
All of this is very fortunate for Coach Pelphrey, because had it not been for the hernia and subsequent surgery Mitchell most likely would have continued to work on the field and not on the hardwood.
The two-sport plan that was worked out this week for Mitchell will have him on the basketball team, but he will still meet with the football team and continue to learn and grow at the quarterback position.
Coach McGee when asked if the Hogs make a bowl if he would like Mitchell back, because of the extra learning and practice time that gives young players, made it clear he would desire that.
So down the road their will be some difficult choices and decisions made between the coaches of the football and basketball programs on Mitchell's two-way sports involvement.
However, the fact that Pelphrey and the Hogs' have Mitchell now as they work to open their regular season next Friday against Alcorn State is a big-time bonus.
Next week, Pelphrey is expected to announce a suspension schedule for incidents that happened during the off-season.
The start of the season is when this will have the biggest effect so having such a talented player as Mitchell come over and help out is a life saver for the team.
When I think of a quarterback and basketball player in one, the first name that comes to mind is Charlie Ward. While at Florida State, Ward successfully contributed to both the Seminole basketball and football teams.
Razorback fans will think of Matt Jones the tall, lanky quarterback for the Hogs that not so long ago helped the football team and basketball team with his great athleticism.
Mitchell has the opportunity and ability to make the same impact these players made as two-way athletes in college athletics and more.
You hear the saying from coaches that a player is a "General" on the court, but today the Razorbacks' now have a "Quarterback" on the hardwood.
Brandon Mitchell image courtesy of ArkansasScout.com
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