AUBURN, Ala. — Although he’s the odds-on outsider in the battle for his own starting quarterback job, Sean White isn’t going away quietly for Auburn football this fall.
Fully recovered from the injuries that robbed him — and Gus Malzahn’s Auburn team to a degree — of a strong finish in 2016, the junior quarterback is a key figure at practice.
“Really impressed (with White),” first-year offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey said Wednesday after Auburn’s third practice of fall camp. “Sean is really smart. He’s been around and played a lot, for sure. I’ve liked what I’ve seen from Sean. Sean is a guy that I lean on some, too, because he’s played here.”
White isn’t expected to retain his starting quarterback job in 2017 following the arrival of former 5-star and Baylor quarterback Jarrett Stidham. However, Lindsey made it clear Wednesday he’s not looking at the battle as something Stidham has already won.
White led Auburn to six consecutive victories while leading the SEC in completion percentage last season. But a shoulder injury late in the regular season and a broken forearm in the Sugar Bowl snowballed into three losses in Auburn’s last four games.
Despite the hype surrounding Stidham, coaches and teammates say White has had a great attitude in practices.
“Sean has done it a lot, so I like where Sean’s mindset is,” Lindsey said. “He’s here to work and compete, and so far, it’s been really good.”
One of the biggest differences for White this fall has been his size. The 6-foot, 200-pound White struggled with injuries during his first two seasons at Auburn.
This fall, he checked in at 211 pounds on the team’s official roster. Lindsey says he has more room to grow in size and durability for the 2017 season.
“He’s put some good weight on,” Lindsey said. “I wanna say he’s close to 215, maybe. I think it’s been good weight, he’s worked hard after his injury to rehab that. … I think it’ll help him stay healthy. The season is a grind, obviously.”
With Lindsey leaning on White during practices and teammates speaking highly of his past experience, it’s apparent the junior is viewed as a team leader.
“Sean did a really good job for us last year when he was healthy,” said junior H-back Chandler Cox, who is Stidham’s roommate. “When we were all healthy, we all executed together. … I think Sean is a tremendous quarterback, and he’s done a really good job for us. So I just tell Sean just go out there and don’t let Jarrett beat you. I tell Jarrett that, too, don’t let Sean beat you.”
White has made for good competition in the eyes of Lindsey, who wants to see which quarterback can best translate their past experience into production on the practice field.
“We’ll just continue to try and evaluate them,” Lindsey said. “Two of the three guys we’ve got have played before, and we feel like we’ve seen enough of that. We’re just looking for really good execution.”