Everyone has different ways of describing the 2016 quarterback situation at Auburn.
Some might refer to it as confusing. Others might call it a work in progress. Based on the response from readers and recruits, many might say it’s embarrassing. In a way, it could be all of those things, though the last is a little unfair given the competition the Tigers have faced in two of the first three games.
So, here’s how I’ll portray the quarterback situation: inconsistent.
And that’s not just the play of Sean White, who has had both its up-and-down moments. That inconsistency goes all the way up to totem pole to Gus Malzahn’s handling of the position, from the three-headed carousel Week 1 to the shot-in-the-arm fourth quarter starring John Franklin III against Texas A&M.
With a 1-2 record, many fans already are turning to an offseason of recruiting. The most common question I get: Who will be the next quarterback?
That answer, too, has its inconsistencies. There’s still a lot to be determined between now and Signing Day. A great deal of that has to do with the success of Auburn’s season (though not all recruits need to see a winning campaign), so it’s still undecided.
But, in the spirit of quarterback carousels, here’s a glance at the many options available for Malzahn to bring in at quarterback the next few years:
- 4-star ATH commit Tray Bishop: He might not even play quarterback, you say? Alas, you might be right. Bishop has the ability to play receiver or safety, if his quarterback hopes hit an obstacle. But that’s not what Bishop is coming to do — not in his mind, at least. Through four games, Bishop has accounted for 7 of his team’s touchdowns (4 passing, 3 rushing). You can look at his highlight tape and recognize his legitimate dual-threat ability. In Bishop’s conversations with SEC Country, he’s made his intentions clear that he’ll come on campus and try to win the starting job. Coaches have told him he’ll have that opportunity. My take: He might take some extra collegiate-level development at the position.
- Baylor transfer Jarrett Stidham: This is the breadwinner right here. He’s proven at the Division I level. He’s not your typical JUCO guy in the sense that he’s only there because of a bizarre coaching change at his previous school — and he’s not even playing JUCO football. For now, Auburn and Texas A&M seem like the frontrunners. For the Tigers’ sake, they should hope the outcome of last weekend’s matchup meant nothing. I don’t necessarily think it would. Stidham likely sees promise at Auburn, with its semi-mess at the position. That’s what Auburn fans should hope for as his recruitment progresses this fall.
- 4-star Texas A&M QB commit Kellen Mond: This is probably a pipe dream at this point. Mond picked the Aggies over the Tigers this summer. While Auburn still will try to flip him, Mond seems to have his mind made up. After the win Saturday, Mond made his preferences clear on Twitter with a string of #GigEm posts to reassure his allegiances. If everything else breaks down, the Tigers still will be making a push for Mond, as far-fetched as it may be.
- 4-star QB commit Joey Gatewood: He might be the future face of Auburn football. Gatewood is a dual-threat QB in every sense of the term. He’s the Tigers only commitment in the 2018 class right now, and he is all he’s cracked up to be. There are a variety of things that could happen before Gatewood graduates, so it’s a slight jump to conclusions that he’ll ultimately make it to Auburn. But he seems all Tigers for now, and if he stays that way, it should make Auburn faithful very, very happy.
- Unranked 2019 QB target Bo Nix: This is a long way off, and a whole host of things could change between Nix’s sophomore year and graduation. But Auburn has one major factor in its favor: Nix’s father, Patrick, played quarterback for the Tigers. It’s obviously early in his recruitment — and high school career, for that matter — but Nix looks the part of a dual-threat quarterback. The Tigers are the early frontrunner, but again, there’s a lot of time for change.
- Auburn freshman Woody Barrett: This has me stepping somewhat out of recruiting territory, so I’ll keep it short. But Auburn’s only quarterback in the 2016 class could make a push for the starting job in the near future. Coaches already have said they’re impressed with his development.
Unfortunate knee injuries for OL commits
You never like to see injuries. You especially don’t like to see season-ending ones. When those season-enders come during a senior season? Well, there’s not much worse than that.
Unfortunately, that’s the situation for two of Auburn’s offensive line commits.
Nick Brahms suffered an ACL injury before his senior season started. Brahms has been in Jordan-Hare Stadium a couple times this fall, wheeling around on his scooter with a boot on his foot.
Brahms said Saturday before the Texas A&M game that he expects to get the boot off “in the next couple weeks,” which has him optimistic for a return before the end of his senior season. That would be highly unlikely, but it’s something for Brahms to attempt.
But Brahms isn’t the only one.
Offensive line commit Austin Troxell endured a similar fate this past weekend, according to a report by Auburn Undercover’s Keith Niebuhr. Troxell tore his ACL, in the same knee as the same ligament tear last season.
According to the report, it happened on the first play of last week’s game.
“I’m pretty beat up about it,” Troxell told Auburn Undercover.