QB Ryan Mallett’s road to gridiron fame just hit another bump. This time, a broken bone in his left foot is sidelining the gunslinger during spring practice. As a top prospect in 2007, Mallett was supposed to shine for Michigan’s Lloyd Carr and did show signs of greatness while backing up then future NFLer Chad Henne. However, after Carr retired and Rich Rodriguez stepped in and introduced his spread offense to the maize and blue, Mallett quickly left the cold of Ann Arbor for the warmth and speed of the SEC. After redshirting in 2008 per the NCAA transfer rules, Mallett showed the Fayetteville faithful his impressive arm strength and accuracy.
In 2009, Mallett led the SEC in total offense and passing yards per game. In just one season, he now owns the school record for most passing yards, most passing TDs in a game (5), only QB to pass over 400 yards in a game (twice), most pass plays of 25 yards or more, and most passing TDs in a single season (30). Though the Razorbacks went 8-5, Mallett threw for an impressive 3,627 yards with 30 TDs and lead his team to victory over East Carolina in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl. He not only took home the Liberty Bowl MVP, but he was named the 2009 National Performer of the Year.
In a somewhat surprising move, Mallett decided to stick around for his junior year and pass on the NFL draft. He was rated as a top 5 QB in this year’s NFL draft. With question marks looming for Colt McCoy, Tim Tebow, and Sam Bradford, Mallett certainly could have overshot them in the NFL combine to raise his draft stock.
Fortunately for the Razorbacks, Mallett’s foot injury will only keep him off of the field during spring practice. He is expected to make a full recovery and will have all summer to work on his fancy footwork and throwing mechanics. This injury may also be a blessing in disguise as it provides additional time for Mallett to recover from his recent left shoulder procedure.
Expect Mallett to continue where he left off come kick-off. Be prepared for more records to be shattered and make sure you attend every game, because there is no doubt he will forgo his senior year to enter the 2011 NFL draft.