AUBURN, Ala. — The three-way race for Auburn’s quarterback job will end soon, but even an official announcement doesn’t mean the Tigers have found their QB for the year.
Three players are battling for the role, but the excitement surrounding junior college transfer John Franklin III — who started out at Florida State in 2013 before transferring to East Mississippi Community College — has increased through the offseason and fall camp. However the dual-threat quarterback’s situation unfolds, offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee said he hopes Auburn fans are “fair.”
“In this case with John, he’s almost like a true freshman,” Lashlee said. “I mean, yeah, he’s coming from junior college but he didn’t play either of his two years at Florida State and he split time last year. So he doesn’t have a lot of college snaps under his belt.”
During fall camp, Lashlee and coach Gus Malzahn talked about the possibility of incorporating a two-quarterback system or using offensive packages designed for Jeremy Johnson, Sean White or Franklin. Lashlee also cited several instances where a player developed through the course of a season and was more prepared as the weeks passed.
“Sometimes that guy is not ready at the beginning of the year and sometimes they are ready by Week 6,” he said. “I mean, you see that with a lot of people. We’ve put so much up on hype and expectations just because we have so much time and we need something to talk about, and if you are the guy, great, still (we shouldn’t) put the expectations on someone. If you’re not (the starter) right away that doesn’t also mean you failed.”
Franklin arrived on Auburn’s campus in January, which gave him nearly seven months to try to acclimate to the offensive system. That added time, while beneficial, still doesn’t compare to the typical timeline of most Power 5 quarterbacks.
“Again, you’re talking about a young man who didn’t start playing quarterback until his sophomore year in high school,” Lashlee said. “Most guys that play quarterback in the SEC were playing quarterback in fifth, sixth grade and he has not played hardly any college ball expect for splitting time in junior college. So he’s improving but there’s still a lot of just — some guys need to play the game. How it shakes out I don’t know, but regardless, either way, I just hope that the expectations are fair to him.”