AUBURN, Ala. — After John Franklin III took a bow in front of the Auburn crowd Saturday against Louisiana-Monroe at the end of a stunning 80-yard touchdown run, he immediately turned to the sideline and looked for one person — the quarterback he replaced on the depth chart.
Franklin went down the sideline and pulled off an impressive high-five with Jeremy Johnson that included a Euro Step that would’ve made Bruce Pearl’s Auburn basketball team jealous:
Several positives for AU on JF3's 80-yard TD:
– The block by Jalen Harris
– The speed
– The bow
– The Eurostep high-five celebration with JJ pic.twitter.com/CuqzoqkOyh
— Justin Ferguson (@JFergusonAU) October 2, 2016
“The quarterbacks, we’re probably tighter than most of you want to believe or think,”Franklin said Saturday after Auburn’s 58-3 win over Louisiana-Monroe. “If you watch my touchdown, and look on the sideline, you’ll see Jeremy Johnson running down the field faster than me. That just goes to show you right there that our relationship is tight no matter what’s going on on or off the field with us.”
Four weeks earlier, Franklin and Johnson were splitting reps in a confusing quarterback rotation behind starting Sean White against Clemson. Then Auburn’s coaching staff nixed that idea, moving Franklin to a permanent No. 2 behind White. Johnson hasn’t taken a snap at quarterback since then.
But that change in the balance of power for Auburn’s quarterbacks hasn’t changed their attitudes toward each other. Whoever gets onto the field as the signal-caller knows he has two big supporters on the sidelines.
“I’ve been blessed to have good guys in my room because like I said, the guys, they pull for each other,” Auburn offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee on Sunday evening. “It doesn’t matter who is in there, they find a way to humble themselves and genuinely pull for the guy out there and help each other.”
As White has taken control as an accurate and efficient starting quarterback through the last four games, the intrigue around Franklin has grown. His long touchdown run and 39-yard scoring pass to Nate Craig-Myers in the third quarter prompted more discussion on if Auburn should play him more in SEC competition.
For Franklin, his focus is on the success of the team.
“Whatever helps us win the game, that’s my No. 1 goal,” Franklin said. “I love winning. Everybody loves winning. So, if that means I play one snap and win, then good. Last week, we won. I don’t care. If that means I play the whole game and we win, then good.”
That seems to be the message from all three quarterbacks — even Johnson, who might not play another meaningful snap at Auburn.
“To be honest, Jeremy just wants to win,” Franklin said. “He doesn’t care if he plays. Jeremy just wants to win. To have someone like that in your corner, especially in our quarterback room, it’s good for us because we push each other. We’re all rooting for each other.”
So when Franklin made a pair of highlight-reel plays Saturday afternoon that could play into White seeing fewer snaps in future games, he didn’t care.
He was too busy celebrating the touchdowns with his fellow quarterbacks.
“I’m jumping for (Franklin’s touchdown). Jeremy’s jumping for that. Everybody is,” White said. “We all want each other to do well. For me, when I’m out there, it’s good to know that they want me to do well. It’s a good environment.”