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Freshman Quarterbacks at Auburn

By on August 22nd, 2019 in Football 13 Comments »

Stan White Leads All Freshman Quarterback Starters With 12 Games

     War Eagle, everybody! We are now about a week away from SEC football cranking up again. Hot on the heels of true freshman Bo Nix getting the starting nod for Auburn’s opener, I decided to look back at freshman quarterbacks I can remember at Auburn.

     The first freshman I can remember starting was Bobby Walden in 1985. Pat Dye’s team transitioned away from the wishbone that year, and installed a power-I offense featuring backs Bo Jackson and Brent Fullwood. The first 3 games, Auburn rotated 3 quarterbacks, Walden, Jeff Burger (who was a redshirt freshman that year), and Pat Washington. Walden received 3 starts but split playing time. The rotation worked well enough in a blowout win over SW Louisiana and a closer than expected win over Southern Miss. Auburn then traveled to Knoxville, and suffered Pat Dye’s worst loss to Tennessee in his head coaching career, 38-20. Dye stopped the rotation after that game, and Pat Washington started the rest of the year. Walden suffered an unnamed injury after that and never again was a factor. Walden was 2–1 as a starter.

     In 1986, I seem to remember redshirt freshman Reggie Slack getting a start against Mississippi State in Starkville, but Jeff Burger came in for the second play and had the rest of the meaningful snaps in a 35–6 blowout.

     1990 was freshman Stan White’s year. He started all 12 games for Auburn, and the team had an 8–3–1 record. White would go on to be a 4-year starter and set a number of Auburn passing records.

     Gabe Gross was the next Auburn freshman starter in 1998. Gross got starts at Mississippi State, against Louisiana Tech, Arkansas, Central Florida, Georgia, and in Birmingham against Alabama in the last Iron Bowl played at Legion Field. Gross’ freshman record as a starter was 2–4.

     Jeff Klein got the call as a redshirt freshman the next year after a shoulder injury to starter Ben Leard. Klein’s first start was in Knoxville, Tennessee, against the defending national champion Volunteers. Klein started against UT, Mississippi State, Florida, and Central Florida, picking up his lone win against the Golden Knights on a late touchdown pass to take the lead in an eventual 28–10 win. Klein was 1–3 as a freshman starter.

     Redshirt freshman Jason Campbell got the nod in 2001 and started against Ball State, Ole Miss, at Syracuse, at Vanderbilt, Mississippi State and Florida before being benched in the Florida game in favor of JUCO transfer Daniel Cobb. Campbell returned to the starting role in the regular season finale in Baton Rouge, Louisiana against LSU. Campbell also started the Chick-fil-A Bowl against North Carolina. Campbell’s record as a freshman starter was 5–3.

     Auburn’s next freshman starter was true freshman Kodi Burns against New Mexico State in 2007. He was quickly relieved in favor of 6th year senior Brandon Cox.

     In 2012, injuries mounted for the Tigers as the year progressed. True freshman Jonathan Wallace had to finish the 63–21 debacle against Texas A&M and started the rest of the season’s games. Wallace led wins over New Mexico State and Alabama A&M, but the offense failed to score a single point against Georgia or at Alabama. Wallace was 2–2 as a starting freshman quarterback.

     The next season in 2013, true freshman Jeremy Johnson got the start on Homecoming against Western Carolina and finished 1–0 as a freshman quarterback starter.

     The last Auburn freshman quarterback to start a game was Sean White in 2015. White got his first start at home against Mississippi State, a 17–9 loss. White started against San Jose State, at Kentucky and at Arkansas before injury sidelined him. White returned to start in the Birmingham Bowl against Memphis. As a freshman starter, White’s record was 3–2.

     Overall, as best I can tell, Auburn’s record with a freshman starting quarterback is 26–18–1, or a 58.9 percent winning percentage. Against SEC competition, the record is only 10–15–1 (40.4 percent). By comparison, the past 35 years when Auburn has a senior starter at quarterback, the SEC record is 61–26–1, or 69.9 percent.

I suspect that this will be an interesting season, no matter which freshman ends up taking the majority of the snaps.


  1. God stuff Acid; always enjoy.

  2. jbellison56 says:

    I love your work Acid, I do and I enjoyed this read. But I believe STAN White was a Red shirt freshman when he started and I don’t think that Sean White played in 1915 unless there was another QB named Sean White.

    • Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

      …..I missed that one! This piece was about freshmen quarterbacks, whether true freshmen or redshirts.

      • Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

        ……One of the hardest candidates to dig up info on was Ken Hobby, who was a true freshman quarterback in 1981, for Auburn. Had some shining moments, that season, before falling to injury. I could not find any evidence that he actually started a game, though.

        • Sullivan013 Sullivan013 says:

          I believe Charlie Thomas and Joe Sullivan had most of the starts at QB that year.

          I must admit to a bit of fuzziness over the details, and not just due to the passage of time. You see, there was this strikingly captivating young lady that I was attending those games with who had a dramatic effect on my attention span for such details.

          The following year we were married. This September, we celebrate our 37th wedding anniversary together.

          • Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

            …..Wow! 37 years! My wife and I first became more serious than casual acquantances 29 years ago, so I have some catching up to do!

            …..As I recall, Hobby was a phenom. He nearly led us back at Tennessee, and basically came off the bench and won the Florida game for us, that year.

            …..That year, I saw almost nothing of the Tigers. I was doing a work sabbatical from school, and had to work a 10 hour+ shift every football Saturday. It was radio only, unless I managed to catch the Auburn Football Review Sunday evening.

          • Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

            …..My recollection is that Thomas was the initial starter in 1981, and got into Pat Dye’s doghouse for whatever reason. Hobby rotated in, and I think they even used receiver Clayton Beauford as a quarterback in spots. Senior Joe Sullivan emerged about midseason and carried the position on from there. I think…

    • wpleagle wpleagle says:

      OOPS! Fixed it – wrong century. Mea culpa, your friendly editor.

  3. AubTigerman AubTigerman says:

    10-15-1 SEC sounds scary but this may be a different situation this year. Maybe Auburn can be in the CFP with our true freshman just as last year’s national champs made it with their frosh. Gotta hope.

  4. Unrelated to the article above, but I just re-watched the 2010 national championship game. Dang. Nick Fairly was an absolute monster out there. He was to the defense what Cam was to the offense. Maybe the two most dominant players at their positions ever to play at Auburn.

    • Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

      …..Sometimes when I’m doing a big cooking job in the kitchen, I pop either that DVD, or the SEC Title Game from 2010 into the kitchen TV. (We have one of those cheap 14 inch LCDs with a DVD drive in the side of the screen!) Great entertainment!

  5. DothanTiger DothanTiger says:

    Stan White has to be the best of the bunch. All time passing leader and the only guy to play 4 straight years.

  6. Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

    ….Jason Campbell played 4 straight, too, but did split starts with Daniel Cobb his first 2 playing years. Stan's overall SEC record as a starter: 16-12-2. Jason Campell compiled an astonishing 21-5 record against SEC opponents!

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