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Could Sean White Be Auburn’s Starting Quarterback in 2017?

Sean White's career completion percentage of .615 ranks third in Auburn history (photo: Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports)

Here we are at the start of another fall camp and Auburn hasn’t named a starting quarterback. Will the new guy Jarrett Stidham supplant the incumbent Sean White? Everyone assumes he will.

While the Baylor transfer only started three games in his one season in Waco, he’s been named to the Maxwell Award preseason watch list and is even on the Vegas board as a possible Heisman candidate. He was chosen as Auburn’s offensive MVP  during the spring game after completing 16-of-20 passes for 267 yards and a rushing touchdown.

But what about White? Despite an injury plagued season last year he led the SEC in completion percentage (.639) and was fourth in passing efficiency (143.1). He has 2,845 career passing yards with 10 touchdowns, and he’s third all time in career completion percentage (.615) and ranks third in Auburn history career passing efficiency (135.04). 

It’s hard to argue that he’s not good when healthy. He has proven his ability to lead the team, starting 16 games and even had the Tigers in the playoff discussion last year during a six-game winning streak. It’s that “when healthy” part that’s the question. The junior has been hampered by four different injuries during his career. Will Gus Malzahn and Lindsey give him another chance or are the risks just too high?

Both Malzahn and offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey have been steadfast in asserting the quarterback competition is real. While many scoff at the idea of a ‘real’ competition taking place, I wouldn’t count out Sean White just yet. After all, this is not his first rodeo. He had to battle Jeremy Johnson, another quarterback with a lot of preseason hype, and came out the winner.

While nursing a broken arm injury during the spring he told reporters, “As a competitor, you want to be out there and playing. I want to be the starter.” And of course Stidham expressed similar sentiments saying, “I came to Auburn… to be the starting quarterback of the Auburn Tigers.”

Jarrett Stidham may get the job but no matter the outcome, Sean will never give up, and that push can only make Jarrett better.  

Of course the positive of having two proven quarterbacks, is no matter which guy wins the job it looks like No. 2 will be capable of leading the offense. And not having a competent No.2 has been the Tigers’ biggest problem the last two years.

“I think if you ask our team, they know it’s a legitimate competition,” Malzahn said recently… I know our team respects Sean. He’s earned that. They respect Jarrett; he’s come in and done a very good job.”

Malzahn didn’t bring in a five-star quarterback to sit on the bench. But what if? What if Lindsey has other ideas?

And if Stidham is as advertised, will Malzahn go ahead and name him starter soon? There’s a lot of value in having your leader named early. It’s something few of these players have ever experienced.

It would be somewhat shocking if Stidham’s not the man, but if it’s a true competition anything is possible. Just ask Jeremy Johnson.


  1. jbellison56 says:

    I love Sean White's and he's a gutsy kid but I don't see how Malzahn can take another chance on him when his job is on the line this year.

  2. audude audude says:

    If Sean is healthy then there isn’t really a “chance” being taken by the coaches naming him starter if he wins it. So he gets hurt, we then have Stidham to come in and save the day. Either way, if it is a good competition, then we are winners!
    thanks for the up ATM.


  3. Zach Taylor Zach Taylor says:

    Sean will be a backup, either to Stidham or Willis. And, he’ll be a great one.

    If it were me, and it’s not, I would burn Willis’ redshirt the moment Stidham goes down. There is no chance that a defense has time to switch gears during crunch time.

    • Derrick Roberts Derrick Roberts says:

      I’ve always been a fan of burning guys’ redshirts early. You’ve got to find out what you have in a kid before you’ve invested 2+ years of grooming only to find out they can’t keep up with the speed of the game. I think holding guys back has hurt far more players than throwing them out there early and letting them grow up on the field.

      All that said, I think there’s almost 0 chance we see Gus do something like that.

  4. uglyjoe says:

    I bet it will be a 1A, 1B sort of thing. Jarrett will play the first half of the opener Sean will play the second half. Behind the scenes, Jarrett will be the starter from day one. Nothing will matter until the Clemson game.

    • AtkinsonTiger AtkinsonTiger says:

      I think your right Joe but I see Gus allowing Sean to start in a nod to his having been the incumbent. Then Jarrett comes in and starts the rest of them.

    • AUFan1 AUFan1 says:

      I agree. and if Auburn gets a big lead in any of them then Sean will come in the game. BUT, I hope it’s not a season of musical chairs between Stidham, White, and a wildcat QB.

    • Derrick Roberts Derrick Roberts says:

      I disagree. Someone (Stidham I think) will win the job outright and it will be his to lose. Garbage time from mid 3rd quarter until the double zeros is anybody’s guess but Gus would have to be quite the fool if he thinks he can enter another season with musical quarterbacks. That can’t happen and any significant success follow thereafter.

      Auburn can’t afford to have the beginning of its season derailed two years in a row because we’ve 3-4 guys taking snaps at quarterback. Unless those additional snaps come into play during mop-up duty. And in that case, I would advocate Malik Willis getting the garbage time snaps and not Sean (whom I think will be the backup). But the Malik Willis deal is something I’ll get into tomorrow in my column.

  5. ausouthal says:

    I have been a White supporter. I have given him every chance. What is his biggest victory? Has he led any late game comebacks? What game did he respond to the team needing a spark? How well does he stretch the field? When I looked at these questions and answered them I said with White at qb we are an 8-5 team.

    • Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

      …..White’s biggest victory was the 56-3 demolition of Arkansas. A big win over Mississippi State and a shoot-out with Ole Miss were good days, too.

      ….. A year before, Auburn trailed Arkansas nearly the entire game, before White brought Auburn back in the waning seconds, and sent it to overtime. Auburn was keeping up in OT, till White got hurt.

      …..As to the spark, I’d point to the Vandy game last year. Auburn trailed at the half, and White came in. Even hurt, he delivered a touchdown drive, and Auburn hung on to win.

      • SEC_Eric SEC_Eric says:

        Thanks for the reminders of what he's done Acid. He deserves to be the No.1 QB.

      • AUsall says:

        A couple of notes on those big wins… Ark, MState, Ole Miss finished as bottom 3 of SEC West with losing records in SEC along with Vandy. The only win White has over a team with a winning SEC record, the offense had no TDs. Also no one ever talks about A&M last season where White was FULLY HEALTHY and was pulled for ineffectiveness after 3rd qtr. However I know that was everyone elses fault on offense. It is never Whites fault. Unfortunately the botton line is we were 8-5 both seasons and he still has not one win over good team.

        • cmatt90 says:

          AUsall, you said it. I’ve yet to figure out why some folks on this board have heart eyes for a QB that’s led the team to two 8-5 seasons. Against good teams he’s simply looked like he didn’t belong on the field. We should all respect his hustle and apparent work ethic, he’s no doubt a great teammate. But he’s not talented enough to lead a team that wants to compete for SEC championships.

  6. Tigerpharm says:

    Everyone (but maybe Sean White) knows there is no competition. Gus didn't bring in the 5-star Stidham to ride the pine. Gus is just saying there is a competition going on in respect for Sean.

  7. Orangeblood says:

    I expect White to be much improved this year. He has shown growth Sugar Bowl could have been different if not the injury.

    Stidham looked great at A-Day.
    He knew where to go with the ball, released it early, and was very accurate. And he held his gaze straight down the field very well. Excellent traits.

    Woody,by comparison, held it too long.

    Willis likely will be no 3. And redshirt.

    Its got to be proven in fall practice before no 1 is named.
    Thats the way it should be!!!!

  8. SEC_Eric SEC_Eric says:

    Could Sean White be the starter? – yes. Will he be the starter? – no. and after what he’s done at Auburn, I wouldn’t blame him if he transferred.

  9. DBAU81 says:

    I love Sean White. He will be a vital part of this team. But Stidham will be the starter as long as he’s healthy.

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  11. […] I think Stidham will emerge as a more polished candidate for the job, but not before Sean White pushes him to the limit. I’ve been comfortable with potential backup quarterbacks in the past, but […]

  12. cmatt90 says:

    Ummmm…the answer is no, Sean White will not be Auburn’s starting QB. He’s a gutsy backup QB forced into a starting role past couple of years. This won’t be a 1A/1B thing. They’re not going to name Stidham starter early in camp out of respect for White and to keep Stidham humble and working, but we’re not winning the SEC West with White in at QB, and the coaching staff knows that. That’s why they went after Stidham. This is a no-brainer.

  13. […]  While “all positions” will be under the microscope, none is more important than the competition between the incumbent quarterback Sean White and Baylor transfer Jarrett […]