AUBURN, Ala. — John Franklin III arrived at Auburn in January, but as fall approaches Gus Malzahn continues testing him. The junior college transfer was one of two quarterbacks — senior Jeremy Johnson was held out by coaches — who practiced in Auburn’s Saturday scrimmage in front of 700 donors.
According to several players, the Tigers didn’t make as many explosive plays as they did during their first visit to Jordan-Hare Stadium earlier in the week, but Franklin’s progress was visible.
“It’s just a matter of him just getting more comfortable,” Malzahn said. “You can see him get more and more comfortable, and we’re trying to throw more things at him. In the spring, he kind of had happy feet sometimes and was unsure of some things. Fall camp, he’s settled down. Every practice, you see him improving. My big deal with him is protecting the football. It’s important to him.”
Wide receiver Darius Slayton also has noticed specific improvements in the dual-threat quarterback, especially in the air.
“John has a great work ethic. Since the first day he came in, he’s been real vocal with us,” Slayton said. “He’s always wanting to talk and throw. His touch – he’s done better with that since he got here, throwing good balls on time with great accuracy. He’s gotten better.”
Slayton views the competition between quarterbacks as a benefit, rather than a detriment to season preparation.
“I feel like we’re still in a good spot even with all three of them, we get plenty of reps,” Slayton said. “Obviously each one of them has a different skill set. They bring different things to the table, but we still execute well as an offense regardless of who’s behind there at quarterback. Naturally, with any team, it’s going to take a while to develop chemistry. But I feel like, even though we’ve got a lot of moving parts, we’re still moving very fluidly.”
Franklin’s dedication also has been striking to sophomore WR Stanton Truitt.
“He worked really hard at what the coaches wanted him to correct,” Truitt said. “He worked really hard this summer with us. He didn’t take any days off. He’s been having a really great camp. If they put him in there, he’ll be ready.”