AUBURN, Ala. — After several months of recruiting, Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn finally got to talk about Jarrett Stidham publicly Wednesday.
And he had a lot of positives to say about his newest quarterback.
“He throws a very good deep ball,” Malzahn said. “Just the trajectory, his arm strength, his accuracy — he does a good job buying himself time. He’s got everything it takes to be a very good quarterback, and the deep ball is definitely part of his arsenal.”
Stidham signed with Auburn on Wednesday, which was national signing day for junior college players. While Stidham didn’t play a down of competitive football this year, he is technically a JUCO transfer to the Plains.
— Auburn Football (@FootballAU) December 14, 2016
Stidham enrolled at McLennan Community College in Texas after deciding to leave Baylor in the wake of the program’s sexual assault scandal. He preserved his remaining years of eligibility by not playing anywhere and training on his own. Stidham was a scout team quarterback for a local high school this fall.
Auburn originally recruited Stidham out of high school, when he signed with Baylor as the nation’s No. 2 dual-threat quarterback in the class of 2015. But Malzahn and offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee knew it would be tough to get him out of Texas.
“We started recruiting him way back when,” Malzahn said. “We felt like he was one of the top quarterbacks in the country when he came out and then he chose to go to another school, so for us to have a guy like him we think he’s an outstanding player, an outstanding person.”
Malzahn confirmed reports that Stidham will arrive at Auburn next week and start participating in Sugar Bowl practices on Dec. 20. Stidham can practice with the Tigers on campus but isn’t allowed to travel to New Orleans.
“He’s got great leadership, so he’ll be a great addition to our team,” Malzahn said. “He will be here (Dec. 19 and 20), and he wants to start practice early — which I think is a good thing, to get around his teammates and all that. … I just know he wants to be out there with his teammates and get out there and do individual stuff like that.”
But Stidham comes with plenty of buzz as the nation’s No. 1 JUCO prospect. He was the No. 2-rated dual-threat quarterback in the class of 2015, and he started three games at Baylor as a true freshman. Stidham went 75-for-109 passing for 1,065 yards, 12 touchdowns and 2 interceptions with the Bears.
FERG’S FILM ROOM: Breaking down all three of Stidham’s starts at Baylor
Stidham will compete immediately for the starting quarterback job at Auburn. Sean White, who returned to practice Wednesday after missing the final two games of the regular season with an injured shoulder, is his top competition.
The Tigers also have junior John Franklin III and redshirting freshman Woody Barrett on the roster.
“We’re glad to have him,” Malzahn said. “He’s got three years left; I think that’s good too. He’ll come in and compete for the job.”
In addition to his deep ball — something the Tigers didn’t have on a consistent basis in 2016 — Stidham also brings a good amount of mobility.
Stidham rushed for 1,790 yards and 29 touchdowns in his junior and senior years of high school. Although Stidham didn’t get many opportunities to carry the ball in his one season at Baylor, Malzahn likes what he’s seen from him as a runner.
“He’s a dual-threat guy,” Malzahn said. “He can throw the ball. He can run when he has to, and he can extend plays. I think that’s a big thing in our league, because a lot of times things are going to break down and a guy that can extend plays and make good decisions — that’s a real positive.”