AUBURN, Ala. — Jarrett Stidham knows he can’t win the starting quarterback job for Auburn football this spring.
But when the former Baylor quarterback thinks ahead to the fall, he says he already can see himself leading the Tigers offense.
“I think that’s why I came here,” Stidham said Saturday, following Auburn’s first scrimmage of spring practice. “I came here to get a great education from Auburn University and then to be the starting quarterback for the Auburn Tigers.”
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Stidham transferred to Auburn after a year away from competitive football with tremendous hype. The Tigers haven’t tried to ease him into things at quarterback. Stidham ran the first-team offense in the first practice of spring ball, and he did the same Saturday in his Jordan-Hare Stadium debut.
“I thought it was good for him out there in the stadium,” Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said. “He hadn’t played football in a year. So it’s different when you get out here. I thought he did some good things. He did some things that (offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey) will work on correcting for the rest of spring.”
Stidham is the early leader in a quarterback battle that features former starter Sean White, who is limited this spring after breaking his forearm in the Sugar Bowl. Malzahn reiterated Saturday the Tigers wouldn’t name a starting quarterback this spring. They will wait for White to return to full health.
That puts Stidham in a peculiar position as the first-team quarterback who can’t fully take over the offense at this point. For now, Stidham embraces the opportunity to compete again on a college roster.
“I’m a big competitor really in anything,” Stidham said. “I was playing pool basketball yesterday with (H-back Chandler Cox) and two of our other buddies and just anything, I‘m going to compete. It’s the nature of who I am, and it’s just part of it. It’s like I said earlier, any time you have competition, I think it makes the room a lot better overall.”
Stidham’s big emphasis during spring practice is developing into a leader “as fast as possible” for his new team. According to senior center Austin Golson, he’s accomplished that mission.
“I think he came in expecting to be a leader, and that’s what he’s done,” Golson said. “Obviously, he’s a pretty good football player. I think he’s going to do nothing but get better and become more and more of a leader.”
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Stidham threw a touchdown pass in the Saturday scrimmage, according to junior wide receiver Will Hastings.
The former kicker, who was one of Auburn’s top receivers Saturday according to Malzahn, spoke highly of how Stidham throws the ball in practice.
“He’s a very good player,” Hastings said. “He can pinpoint it for real. He’ll keep you safe, for sure. He puts the ball where you want it. He makes sure he watches out for us, and we watch out for him.”
Stidham won’t accomplish his ultimate goal at Auburn until later this year. Until then, he’s focused on putting himself in the best position with his new teammates.
“I think it’s doing the little things that will kind of, hopefully, stand out,” Stidham said. “You just got to take it day by day and compete, and that’s just how it is.”