AUBURN, Ala. — Since Auburn landed Jarrett Stidham, questions have revolved around the future of the Tigers’ quarterback position.
Who will win the starting job? What does this mean for Sean White? Did coaches lose faith in the development of Woody Barrett? Perhaps the most regular query, however: Is this the end of the road for John Franklin III as an Auburn quarterback?
Gus Malzahn spoke about that Wednesday in his first Sugar Bowl media session. The Auburn coach won’t say “no” to that at this point.
In fact, he said Franklin will be as much a part of the spring quarterback competition as anyone.
“I think John will stay at quarterback, and he’ll compete for the job,” Malzahn said. “John has done some things, and the fact this is his first year in our offense, he looked better today than he looked during the season. So it’s just a matter of him getting more reps, getting more comfortable.”
Following the Iron Bowl, Franklin spoke with reporters and hinted a potential graduate transfer wasn’t out of the question. That was more speculative discussion than anything. The same goes for a potential position switch.
Malzahn said they “haven’t talked about anything like that.”
Franklin finished the 2016 season with a small sample size. He completed 11-of-19 passes for 179 yards and 1 touchdown. Most of his production came as a runner. Franklin ran 41 times for 414 yards and 2 touchdowns, averaging more than 10 yards per carry.
Still, Jeremy Johnson earned the start over Franklin in the last two games of the season, which signified a reserved level of confidence. Adding Stidham, Franklin will have even more obstacles to securing more playing time.
“Depth at that position is obviously very important and I think with Jarrett coming in, I think that really helps in that area and it’ll be good. … Yeah, we’re going to let them compete and see who wins the job,” Malzahn said.