AUBURN, Ala. — There has been a bit of uncertainty surrounding Auburn freshman quarterback Woody Barrett since the beginning of the year.
In February, Gus Malzahn ensured that the Winter Garden, Fla., native would have a chance to earn the starting quarterback job. Nearly six months later, during the first days of preseason camp, Malzahn announced Barrett would not compete for the role.
“He’s not in that conversation at this time,” Malzahn said. “And that’s nothing against him. We think he’s very talented, it’s just a matter of him getting the reps and (him) showing what he can do.”
The quarterback battle continued without Barrett. Yet with just more than two weeks until its home opener, Auburn has not named a starter and Barrett’s status — will he redshirt or not — is unclear.
“It’s probably too early to say for sure if he would or wouldn’t (redshirt) just because you never know what happens with the other guys getting hurt and stuff like that,” Tigers offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee said. “So (we’re) kind of bringing him along, still getting him as ready as he can be. “(We) still believe he’s got a bright future and feel really good about bringing him in and that he’s going to be a good fit. We’ll just continue to bring him along, kind of like we have some young guys in the past, and just see how the season goes.”
Barrett arrived on Auburn’s campus in late June, landing among a trio of quarterbacks who had been competing since the spring. Jeremy Johnson, Sean White and John Franklin III rotated through the majority of reps during the fall.
However, the 6-foot-2 Barrett was the only quarterback to go live in multiple scrimmage situations. The dual-threat quarterback protected the football and communicated well, pleasing coaches with his first Jordan-Hare Stadium appearances.
“Physically, he’s almost 240 pounds,” Lashlee said. “I’ve been impressed with just his ability to focus and his eagerness to learn. He’s getting better.”
Early in camp, Barrett exchanged texts with Bob Head, his former coach at West Orange High School. Barrett reported he was working hard and quickly trying to soak up everything — especially the quarterback battle unfolding in front of him.
“Oh he’s right on it,” Head said. “He’s studying every ounce of what those guys are doing, the good and the bad. He’s just trying to create his own flair and his own swag and figure out how he needs to fit in.”
So will the newcomer be prepared if he hears his name called at some point in Auburn’s season? Head thinks so.
“Woody is a gamer,” Head said. “He’s a kid that can handle pressure, physically his body can handle anything. He just mentally has to learn, and once he knows what he’s doing, look out. I have a lot of faith in Woody Barrett.”