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Donavan Mutin takes nothing for granted on the football field

Junior linebacker Donavan Mutin delivers a big hit in UH football's win over Rice on Sept. 11. | James Schillinger/The Cougar

Junior linebacker Donavan Mutin delivers a big hit in UH football’s win over Rice on Sept. 11. | James Schillinger/The Cougar

Donavan Mutin took the podium after Houston’s 45-0 route of Grambling State and was asked about his thoughts on the Cougars’ defense holding the Tigers to 102 yards on the game.

“(It was) 96 yards before the last drive,” Mutin said jokingly.

Taking pride and putting maximum effort into every snap played is Mutin’s forte no matter the opponent, taking each yard the UH defense gives up personally.

While focused on quarterbacking the defense while on the field, Mutin makes sure to take time to take in his surroundings and find joy in getting to play the game he loves on Saturdays in the fall, knowing that his time in football draws nearer to an end as each day passes by.

“I value where I’m at. I’m here only because of the blessings put in my life,” Mutin said. “I won’t be here forever and this is a privilege and it’s not given to everybody. So I make sure when I’m out there I don’t take a single opportunity (for granted) whether it’s shaking somebody’s hand, laughing with somebody or cheering somebody on who made a big play.”

Asked how he developed this mindset, Mutin said he has always been hardwired this way understanding that nothing is given and everything must be earned.

“We just get 12 opportunities. We work our tail off the whole year and we just get 12 opportunities to show everyone, show the world what we do,” Mutin said. “Why not go out there and be like that?”

Along with having the right mindset, defensive coordinator Doug Belk said what makes the UH junior linebacker so unique is the genuine love he has for every one of his teammates.

When watching film, Belk always pays attention to the sidelines and one thing always jumps out: Mutin is the most excited guy on the team whenever something positive happens for the Cougars.

“(Mutin’s) more excited when Malik (Robinson) or Mannie (Nunnery) or somebody else makes a play that plays his same position than those guys are,” Belk said. “I think that’s a true sign of a leader.”

Mutin’s brotherly love for his teammates stems from being intentional about spending as much time as possible with them, creating a tight-knit bond that will translate into success on the field.

All of these efforts to grow close to one another have paid dividends, as Mutin believes the 2021 UH defense is unlike any he has been a part of in his career, in what they have done on and off the field.

“We care about each other,” Mutin said. “Please don’t think I’m saying that just because that’s what I should say for an interview. We care about each other. When we leave the building, the guys on our defense hang with each other. And that’s everywhere we go.”

UH’s defense has made a statement in its last two games, holding Rice and Grambling State to a combined 7 points on 314 total yards.

Both Belk and Dana Holgorsen credit Mutin for playing a large part in the defense’s turnaround, pointing out that there was such a massive difference between when Mutin was on versus off the field in 2020. Having a healthy Mutin this season has done more than words can describe for the defense according to Holgorsen.

While Mutin has received praise from his coaches and teammates, he feels like the Cougars’ defense has not been given the recognition and respect they deserve by the rest of the public.

But this doesn’t bother Mutin. Instead, it adds fuel to the fire, further motivating Mutin and the UH defense to let their play do the talking and show that the defense is legit.

“We’re little old Houston to people,” Mutin said. “We’re just the dudes from the Third Ward. Nobody wants to give us anything. No one wants to give us any credit. Nobody wants to give us what we deserve.”

“Every week we take that as a chip on our shoulder and we love it, we laugh at it, we embrace it. We know when we put what we put on the field it’s going to speak for itself. A good product will sell itself.”

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