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Meet SaberCats' jack-of-all-trades Mitch Mustain
SAN JOSE - If ever a guy looked the part of a big time quarterback, it’s San Jose SaberCats quarterback Mitch Mustain. Eighteen-year Arena Football League veteran signal caller Aaron Garcia recognizes Mustain’s talent.
“The thing I notice is his arm strength,” says Garcia.
Head Coach Darren Arbet says “I call him the all-American guy! His hair is always done; pants are always creased.”
”I don’t know about that,” says Mustain. “I take care of what I need to. It’s just the way I am I guess”
If the name Mitch Mustain sounds familiar, you’re probably a college football fan. Among the big name high school quarterbacks to join the college ranks in recent years—guys like Tim Tebow, Matthew Stafford and Jimmy Clausen most notably—Mitch Mustain was considered—by many—to be the best of the lot.
From National High School Player of the Year to a winner of his first eight starts under center for his hometown Arkansas Razorbacks, Mustain looked on his way to fulfilling his promise. But mistrust between Mustain and Coach Houston Nutt led to Mustain’s benching…which ultimately led to Mustain’s transfer after just one season. “Arkansas wasn’t a place I needed to be,” Mustain said. “I moved on to USC, and I think anyone who’s familiar with that one knows it’s a tough place.”
Tough indeed. At the University of Southern California, Mustain’s path to playing time was blocked first by future New York Jets top draft pick Mark Sanchez and later by the highly recruited Matt Barkley. In fact, the second string job was road blocked by two other highly recruited players: John David Booty and Aaron Corp. In three seasons as a Trojan, Mustain would start just one game. “I played behind Booty and Sanchez and Barkley,” Mustain said. “Certainly, there are things I could have done different to give myself a little better opportunity. But, that’s the way it goes. You learn from it, pick up the lessons you can, and move on.”
The 25 year old moved on to stints helping out at a friend’s car dealership, vying for a backup QB job with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the CFL and trying out as a minor league reliever for the White Sox. All of that has led Mustain to San Jose, where he’s landed the backup quarterback job with the SaberCats.
“He’s had a lot of bad outcomes,” said Coach Arbet. “I don’t know if he made a lot of bad decisions. We’re going to try to make this one be a good outcome.”
Starting SaberCats QB Aaron Garcia says Mustain has been an eager student of the indoor game. “To see Mitch come out here,” Garcia said. “And the commitment level that he’s had, and being willing to support what I’m doing, as well as learn from me -- I’ve seen a lot of progress.”
The appreciation between Garcia and Mustain is mutual. “It’s nice getting to spend time with him,” Mustain said. “To see the way he looks at the game, the way he approaches it, I think I’ve already become a better quarterback here. (I’ve) become quicker, smarter.”
According to Coach Arbet, “He’s (Mustain’s) further along than I thought he was going to be. He’s going to be good in this game.”
But, will Mustain become good enough in the game of Arena Football to finally get a shot at the next level?
“I mean, I’m hoping this is a step up to other opportunities,” Mustain said. “But, that’s not to say…I’m not diminishing the role here. We’re here to win.”