AUBURN, Ala. — With starting quarterback Sean White on the mend ahead of the Iron Bowl, Auburn will send a senior quarterback out with a start in his final game at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn said Thursday night on his Tiger Talk radio show that senior quarterback Jeremy Johnson will start Saturday against Alabama A&M (7:30 p.m. ET, SEC Network).
“Jeremy Johnson is going to start us out on senior day,” Malzahn said. “I know our team is excited for him. He’s excited, and I’m excited for him.”
Johnson hasn’t played at quarterback for Auburn since the season opener against Clemson, when he rotated with White and backup John Franklin III. The senior from Montgomery, Ala., received his last start in the Iron Bowl last season.
White will not play Saturday against FCS program Alabama A&M as he recovers from an injury to his throwing shoulder. He aggravated his injury against Georgia last week in a career-worst performance.
“Sean White has not practiced this week,” Malzahn said. “Sean won’t play this week.”
Auburn will have Franklin available to play behind Johnson as White rests. Franklin made his first career start against Vanderbilt but struggled running the entire offense for a single half.
“John Franklin will get a chance, too,” Malzahn said. “But we’re very excited for Jeremy. He’ll be ready to go.”
Johnson holds a 6-3 mark as a starting quarterback at Auburn, getting his first career start against Western Carolina as a true freshman in 2013. He started the 2015 season as Auburn’s primary quarterback, but he was benched after a 45-21 loss to LSU in Week 3.
Johnson returned to lead Auburn in a road win against Texas A&M, and he scored 7 total touchdowns in the final three games of the season as White dealt with a knee injury. He went 4 for 6 in the 2016 opener against Clemson with 1 interception and a fourth-down fumble.
Despite Johnson’s move down to third string after the Clemson game, Auburn teammates have repeatedly called the former blue-chip quarterback recruit a team leader. Johnson is normally the first one out of the tunnel for Auburn on game days.
As he has been pretty much every week, Jeremy Johnson is the first Auburn player to get to the opposite stands to pump up the JHS crowd.
— Josh Vitale (@AUBlog) September 24, 2016
On Saturday, he’ll be the first one on the field for Auburn’s offense.
“He’s had a good week of practice,” Malzahn said. “His teammates are excited for him … I think he’ll play well.”