I Came To Auburn To Win It All
(photo: John Reed/USA TODAY Sports)
When quarterback Jarrett Stidham arrived in Auburn in 2017 he had only played in four college games, and that was two years before he set foot on the Plains. He naturally had some rust to work through after the two-year layoff. And under the tutelage of new offensive coordinator, Chip Lindsey, he responded by getting better almost every outing.
So much so that by the end of the season the redshirt sophomore made several All-SEC teams and finished with 3,158 yards and 18 touchdowns with six interceptions. In addition he had the best completion percentage ranking in the SEC (66.5). What’s more, he did it while nursing a shoulder injury the last part of the season. Graduating in May, he could have entered the NFL Draft but opted instead to wear the Orange and Blue for another year.
He said back in 2017 he had come to Auburn to try and help win a championship. And the Tigers came oh so close, beating their two biggest rivals before falling to Georgia in the SEC Championship game and narrowly missing inclusion in the College Football Playoff.
It was a bitter pill to swallow for the signal caller. Stidham said last week it left him wanting, “To come back and try to finish what I started.” However, that’s a particularly difficult goal to reach for any team, most especially one that plays in the SEC West. It will be even more challenging for a team that has to play both Alabama and Georgia in away games at the end of the season.
But Jarrett Stidham is not afraid of challenges. That’s one reason he chose to play at Auburn. He has the single-eyed focus that all great quarterbacks have. The same fearless decision-making ability that causes him to take chances with the ball and press the action in a game is the same confidence he displays off the field. It’s not cockiness, it’s confidence. The kind of confidence that players can follow. That’s what it will take to reach the next level.
Stidham exudes confidence, and that can be contagious to a team. He said last week, “I came to Auburn to win it all.” Make no mistake, that’s what he plans to do.
A decision made by Coach Malzahn in the off season may help him reach that goal. For the first time under Gus, a quarterback will be given the authority to check out of plays and audible into new ones if he sees better calls against a defense. That could be a big deal. Had Jarrett had that freedom in 2017, the Tigers may have had a couple of more wins … I’m thinking Clemson and LSU here, folks.
At any rate, there’s a lot of optimism brewing around the athletic offices this summer, and for good reason. For one thing, Stidham’s stable of quality receivers could possibly include the return of Eli Stove and Will Hastings from injuries.
And then there’s the fact that this year will mark the first time in program history for a 3,000-yard passer to return for another year. No one has ever done that. Not Pat Sullivan, not Stan White, not Cam Newton! So maybe, just maybe we’ll get to see Jarrett’s dream to win it all come true. I can hardly wait for the journey to begin.