Saturday, February 18, 2012
Mustain talks his next venture
By Pedro Moura
Forgive yourself if you don't understand Mitch Mustain's career trajectory -- it doesn't make much sense.
In 2006, the former USC quarterback was once the country's top football recruit, following his prep head coach to his hometown Arkansas Razorbacks, where he went 8-0 as a starter after making a storybook debut in a blowout loss to USC.
Then things quickly grew sour and he transferred cross-country to USC, where he sat out the 2007 season while redshirting, the 2008 season behind Mark Sanchez and the 2009 season after placing third in a three-way competition for the starting quarterback spot.
He finally got his chance when Matt Barkley got hurt in November 2010 and almost led the Trojans to a home win over Notre Dame before Ronald Johnson dropped a potential winning touchdown in the rain. In the midst of the pre-draft process the next February, Mustain was arrested on a felony narcotics charge for allegedly attempting to sell Adderall to an undercover officer.
That charge was reduced to a misdemeanor when it was determined the drug was not actually Adderall but Vyvanse, a common knock-off. He said he was using it to treat his attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
But Mustain wasn't drafted in April and couldn't stick with a Canadian Football League team he signed with in the summer. He proceeded to sign with an Arena League team in October with plans to join them in training camp right around now, then was featured in the news again for a bizarre trailer to a documentary about him.
In the two-minute teaser, Mustain is shown making his collegiate debut against USC, going gun-shooting in a forest and broadly discussing his life.
Now, Mustain is getting back into baseball, a sport he hasn't played competitively since his sophomore season of high school eight years ago, signing a minor-league contract with the Chicago White Sox earlier this month. He'll be in extended spring training for the next two months and should get assigned to a lower-level team by late April.
"I've been wanting to get back in the game for a while," Mustain said Saturday in a recorded interview with 710-ESPN's Mark Willard in L.A. "Even at 'SC, I wanted to play. Things just didn't work out to where it was a feasible option.
"But I came home and finally had the time and resources to get back into it a little bit."
Mustain hit 90 miles an hour on the radar gun multiple times during the workout for a White Sox scout, he said. But his other pitches aren't very developed yet, and he knows he has quite a bit of work to do.
"The level that I'm headed to, there's a lot of development that has to be made, a lot of progress," he told Willard. "I think a big part of it is just getting back into shape."
The White Sox have him on a long-toss program at that moment, which Mustain compared in terms of toughness to getting sacked by a big defensive lineman.
Which raises the question: Is he giving that up -- the football, at whatever level?
"For the time being," said Mustain, who turns 24 later this month. "Obviously, if I'm gonna do this, I'm gonna put everything I can into it."
He still says his dream is to join the Marine Corps, but he has to know if sports are going to work out sometime soon if he's going to pursue that. Marines have to enlist in active duty by age 28.
As for his tumultuous career at USC, Mustain refused to bad-mouth his time with the Trojans. He graduated with a degree in international relations and is proud of that backup option.
"I don't think I would've had a better football education if I would've gone anywhere else," he said. "Certainly it's not a bad degree. Overall, I can't complain about the experience."