In the last 10 recruiting classes, Auburn has brought in 15 quarterback prospects.
They’ve entered with a variety of skill sets and expectations. Some joined during the Tommy Tuberville era, others the Gene Chizik years, some since Guz Malzahn arrived. A few were dual-threat game-changers. A few had pro-style ability that went against the Auburn norm.
It’s always interesting to go back and see what worked and what didn’t through recruiting. Here’s an assessment of Auburn’s quarterback haul in recruiting since 2007:
2007: 4-star Kodi Burns
All in all, Burns’ career at Auburn is considered a success. He played in 47 games — as a quarterback and wide receiver — during his four-year career with the Tigers. Burns never truly panned out as a quarterback, hence his eventual switch to wide receiver. But Burns combined to account for 23 touchdowns through his freshman and sophomore seasons at Auburn. Burns also led the Peach Bowl comeback against Clemson, which launched him into stardom earlier in his Tigers career.
2008: 3-star Barrett Trotter, 3-star Chris Todd
It’s tough to fairly measure Trotter. He ended up caught behind Todd and Cam Newton on depth charts. Trotter eventually took over QB responsibilities briefly in 2011 and played well. He threw for 1,184 yards and 11 touchdowns as a part-time starter.
Todd assumed starting responsibilities immediately after transferring from a junior college. Todd started five games, splitting reps as the team’s full-time quarterback. By 2009, it was Todd’s team. Todd became the starting quarterback and set multiple program records. He became the single-season record-holder at the time for touchdown passes with 22. Todd also threw for 2,612 yards.
Because of Trotter’s secondary role, that’s 1 for 2 in the ’08 class.
2009: 4-star Tyrik Rollison, 3-star Clint Moseley, 2-star Robert Cooper
Rollison was expected to be the cream of the class, but a host of issues held him back. He got sick in his first spring camp, which played an early role in his eventual redshirt. Rollison later was suspended for academics and transferred once Newton arrived on campus. He first went to Sam Houston State, then Tyler Junior College, then Texas A&M-Commerce. As it turned out, he had a solid career there, but it didn’t work out for Auburn.
Moseley had the most impact of the three, though he never became successful, so to speak. He played in games from 2010 to ’12 as a quarterback but almost exclusively as a backup. Moseley started six games, battling Trotter for reps. He completed his Auburn career with 1,173 passing yards and 6 touchdowns before leaving the team after graduation.
Cooper didn’t have high expectations from the beginning as a 2-star prospect — a rarity at Auburn. He suffered a devastating concussion early at Auburn, and it effectively ended his football career. Cooper never had a chance to outplay his 2-star status.
That’s an 0-fer in 2009.
2010: 4-star Cam Newton
This recruiting cycle deserves extra points. What else is there to say? Newton came in and took the entire country by storm. He passed for 2,854 yards and 30 touchdowns. Newton ran for 1,473 yards and 20 more scores. He won the Heisman Trophy. Auburn cruised to a perfect record and national championship win against Oregon. Newton’s stay at Auburn was short-lived, as it was designed to be. But it accomplished all the goals it could’ve during the wild one-year journey.
2011: 4-star Kiehl Frazier, unranked Wirth Campbell
Campbell came in unranked and didn’t stay at quarterback. He saw some reps in garbage time during the 2013 season, but those were in a wide receiver-tight end hybrid role.
Frazier had flashes that would’ve put him in the “hit” category instead of “miss.” In 2011, he rushed for 300-plus yards and 3 touchdowns. In 2012, Frazier threw for 753 yards and 2 touchdowns but tossed 8 interceptions. Frazier never received much of a chance at quarterback after that. He bounced around to multiple positions in attempts to accentuate his athleticism, but he transferred to Ouachita Baptist.
You’ll notice the trend of hit years and miss years.
2012: 3-star Jonathan Wallace, 4-star Zeke Pike
Pike was the prize of the class. His variety of setbacks kept him from seeing the field for the Tigers. Pike transferred and continued to struggle.
Wallace never stepped into a regular starting role, but he still turned out to be a successful addition. He was the second-tier quarterback in his class and became the one who served a much greater purpose for the Tigers. Wallace stepped into a starting role the final four games of his true-freshman season in 2012. As a backup, he played plenty in 2013 and 2014. Wallace moved to receiver for his final season and now serves as an Auburn graduate assistant.
That’s 1 for 2, in my book. Wallace might not have had the starter’s dominance, but he has played a vital role for the Auburn family as a leader and now coach.
2013: 4-star Jeremy Johnson, 3-star Nick Marshall
Marshall: big hit. Johnson: disappointing miss.
Marshall led Auburn on one of its most miraculous seasons in program history. He signed as an athlete, technically, but he never played anything but quarterback for Auburn, so we’ll classify him as such. Marshall threw for 4,508 yards in his Auburn career, which included 34 passing touchdowns and 13 interceptions. He added 1,866 yards and 23 TDs in the rushing game. It was Auburn’s brightest time under coach Gus Malzahn.
But Marshall wasn’t supposed to be the stud of the class. That was Johnson. He played well in Marshall’s absences in 2013 and 2014. Once it became Johnson’s time in 2015, something happened. Johnson took a 180 and never developed into the unstoppable leader many expected him to be. It’s tough to call Johnson a miss, but for these purposes, there’s really no other choice based on expectations.
2014: 4-star Sean White
White hasn’t been able to stay healthy during his two seasons as a regular starter for Auburn. That hasn’t stopped him from being extremely successful against nonconference and SEC foes. White’s best stretch came during the 2016 season, when Auburn rode a long winning streak following its 1-2 start. White’s play carried the offense, including a 56-point performance against Arkansas that provided people with 2013 flashbacks. White’s work isn’t done, either. He’ll have a serious chance to retain his starting job after a competitive quarterback competition with Jarrett Stidham, John Franklin III, Woody Barrett and others.
2015: 3-star Tyler Queen
This one remains to be seen, so it won’t factor into the hit-or-miss grade at the end. Queen hasn’t been able to stay healthy, but he finally saw some action at the end of the Alabama A&M game in 2016. He isn’t going to be mentioned much in the quarterback competition discussion, but he will have his opportunity.
2016: 4-star Woody Barrett, 3-star John Franklin III
Franklin III didn’t become what some expected he’d be. But in one season in the SEC, Franklin showed he can make game-altering plays in space. It’s unlikely it will happen as a quarterback based on the nature of the competition ahead, but Franklin showed signs of a big-time playmaker.
Barrett sat out his freshman year and expressed public frustrations with the wait. Again, it’s an ultra-competitive quarterback room, so it’s hard to tell how much everyone will contend. Like Queen, it’s too early to call on Barrett’s hit-or-miss status, so that won’t be included below. It’s a work in progress.
The success rate: 40 percent (6/15)
That might seem low, but when you see most of the other SEC success rates, it’s right on par.
It’s also somewhat discretionary. Franklin III was considered a miss, for now. Johnson was a miss. Wallace was a hit based on expectations vs. performance. Queen and Barrett weren’t graded.
But it’s also worth noting the nature of some of the hits. Newton and Marshall really, really hit. One won a national championship. The other came as close to winning one as possible without actually winning it. Todd set enough program records to be considered a home-run signee, as well. Along those lines, however, it’s worth noting all three of those supreme successes were JUCO transfers. That will satisfy Stidham supporters.
The hits also included Newton, Marshall, Burns and Wallace, who all are dual-threat guys. Malik Willis is the likely backup option in the 2017 competition, but that’s something to look at down the line.