AUBURN, Ala. — Sean White knew what was coming. The quarterback felt “the vibe” when he entered his meeting with Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn and offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey earlier this week.
“That’s how Coach Malzahn and Coach Lindsey operate, which I appreciate,” White said. “They’re always honest and they’re going to tell you how it is.”
And so the coaches explained they were going to name Jarrett Stidham Auburn’s starting quarterback. Still, there were positives for White sprinkled throughout the disappointing news. The staff felt he was as good as he’d ever been in fall camp, giving Auburn a strong two-deep at quarterback. The message was clear.
“Be ready,” White said they told him. “Because you never know when you’ll be called upon, and we’re going to need you preparing, and stuff like that.”
But White doesn’t intend to wait for Stidham to stumble or even to cheer against the No. 1. Just the opposite.
“Yeah, I mean, Jarrett has done a really good job and he deserves to be the starter,” White said. “I think I’ve done well, I think I’ve improved, I think I’m better than I ever have been but I understand they have to make a decision. When Jarrett is out there, I’m going to be behind him 100 percent, whether that’s preparing or helping.”
The Boca Raton, Fla., native, is conscious of the fine line he’s now walking. He wants to help, but he wants to do it in the right way.
“Now, I don’t want to be in his ear too much,” White said. “But if I see something, I’m definitely going to tell him. I think we can work together. Watching film, preparing in practice, everything like that, like I said, I’m behind him.”
Few understand the nuances of being thrown into a game or dealing with adversity in the SEC better than White. He was tossed into the mix behind Jeremy Johnson in 2015 then dealt with a string of injuries — the last of which left him sidelined after the opening drive of Auburn’s Sugar Bowl loss.
It goes without saying he’s going to be ready to step in when needed this fall. He just hopes if or when the time comes it’s not because Stidham is failing.
“I’m not hoping for Jarrett to do poorly at all,” White said. “I want him to succeed, and I’m going to do everything I can do to help him succeed and help our team win.”
Even after establishing himself as a talented quarterback against some of the country’s toughest defenses, there’s no ill will as far as White’s concerned. Malzahn intended to give his 2016 starter a fair shot at the job, and White feels that’s what he got.
“They gave me a chance in fall camp, I wasn’t healthy for the spring and I appreciate that,” White said. “Like I said, I feel like I’ve improved as a quarterback a lot thanks to coach Lindsey and coach Malzahn’s coaching. I feel healthy and I’m just ready for this season.”
White graduates in December, which means he could be a graduate transfer. For now, though, White’s concerned about the next 16 days and the 2017 season.
“I really have not thought about it all,” White said. “I’m just focusing on this season. That’s all I’m thinking about. When that time comes, I’ll think about it then.
“I know I’m not going into it as the starter but I’m excited. I think we have a great team and we’re going to do really well this year. I’m all in for this season for whatever they ask me to do.”