“I Want To Be The Starter” says Auburn’s Battle-Scarred Field General
Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports
Spring practice has to be tough on Auburn’s incumbent starting quarterback, Sean White. The redshirt junior has had a well publicized up-and-down career on the Plains. After battling and winning the starting role in 2015, he injured his knee against Arkansas. He bounced back and was having a great 2016 season, and some even started looking at the Tigers as a possible College Football Playoff team.
During a six-game winning streak he led the SEC in completion percentage and efficiency rating before a shoulder injury at Ole Miss derailed his (and the Tigers’) season. By the time the Sugar Bowl rolled around, the shoulder was rested and he was pumped and ready. Then on the opening drive, he broke his arm trying to get an extra yard down close, effectively ending the Tigers’ chances at victory.
Now, once again, White finds himself in another quarterback battle but handicapped by the Sugar Bowl injury that hasn’t completely healed. One has to wonder if the signal caller may be snake bitten when it comes to injuries. Although it hasn’t eliminated him from the competition, he has to look on while the other three quarterbacks take reps in 11-on-11 drills.
It’s tough enough to watch Woody Barrett and freshman Malik Willis shine in Saturday’s scrimmage but even tougher to watch his main competitor, Jarrett Stidham, running the first team.
As a competitor, you want to be out there and playing,” White said. “That’s the hardest part… I want to be the starter. [But,] I’m just trying to learn as much as I can without getting actual team reps.”
Stidham expressed similar sentiments over the weekend, “I came to Auburn… to be the starting quarterback of the Auburn Tigers.” Watching from the sideline Saturday, White said, “[Jarrett] looks good out there and comfortable and seems to know the offense.”
With Sean not able to participate in contact drills, it appears Stidham has the edge. However, White has the confidence of his teammates, who know what he is capable of when healthy. “I think Sean has a little mean streak to him. He’s not going to back down from anybody,” running back Kerryon Johnson said during last years’ QB race. “He’s a spicy player, and he loves competition. That’s the thing that people get out of playing with him. They really get that attitude that you can feed off of as a team.”
While some have already anointed Stidham as the starter, it would be foolish to count out Sean White. He’s been here before, and he’s proven he has the strength and toughness to overcome the biggest hurdles.
Jarrett Stidham may well be the starter when the Tigers take the field against Georgia Southern on September 2, however, it won’t come without a real fight later this summer from Auburn’s battle-scarred field general.