AUBURN, Ala. — Jeremy Johnson’s up-and-down junior season ended on a high note at the Birmingham Bowl.
He scored two touchdowns, and though he was the backup option and red-zone quarterback in Gus Malzahn‘s offense against Memphis, teammates noticed Johnson was finally having fun again.
Receiver Ricardo Louis, who is preparing for the NFL Draft, noticed it, too, and it’s why he thinks the Johnson of old, who threw for 243 yards in one half against Arkansas in 2014 and looked the part of an All-SEC threat as a backup in 2013 and 2014 will emerge again in 2016.
The key? He needs to regain his smile.
“He slowly but surely has the whole summer to get back to where we all know him as the great Jeremy and he will,” Louis told WGZZ-FM in Auburn this week. “I have faith in that. It’s his last year. He’s going to have a sense of urgency about himself. In my opinion I think he’ll end up getting the starting job.”
The three-man battle at the position resulted in no winners this spring. Sean White had the best performance at the A-Day scrimmage, but his 125 yards passing was marred by a fumble inside the red zone. John Franklin III threw for 61 yards and his one touchdown pass, a 40-yarder to Marcus Davis, was lost in the spiraling winds by freshman cornerback Javaris Davis, who should have made a play on the ball.
Johnson started the first three games of the 2015 season but six interceptions led to his benching and White’s rise as starter. White, however, threw only one touchdown against four interceptions the entire season and was injured for the latter half of the schedule as the Tigers finished 7-6 after starting the season ranked No. 6 in the national polls.
“They all have something they do differently but they do it well,” Louis said. “I feel like, just for Jeremy, he knows to go out there and have fun and be himself because he’s going to compete, he’s a competitor and he’s a winner. Once he’s having fun, he’s going to be great no matter what. No matter what his situation, if he’s having a great time, laughing and having a good time with his teammates, he’s going to do great.”
Franklin III is the wild card in Louis’ eyes. Louis, of course, never played alongside Franklin III, who enrolled at Auburn in January. Louis was impressed with Franklin III’s arm and his mobility.
“Being in Malzahn’s offense, if you can run the ball as the quarterback, you can definitely make plays to win games,” Louis said.
Who should be Auburn’s starting quarterback?
- Why Sean White should be Auburn’s starting quarterback
- Why Jeremy Johnson should be Auburn’s starting quarterback
- Why John Franklin III should be Auburn’s starting quarterback