Is Woody Barrett the Forgotten Man?
photo: Julie Bennett/al.com
Well, it’s spring time in Auburn, and that means it’s time for another quarterback competition. The Tigers go through this so often, it seems like it’s almost a rite of spring on the Plains.
Although many assume the nation’s number one JUCO quarterback, Jarrett Stidham, will be the starter for the Tigers in 2017, the final decision hasn’t been made yet.
Toiling almost in the shadow of the former Baylor QB is a redshirt freshman who came to Auburn with an impressive resume of his own. During his senior year of high school, Woody Barrett passed for 20 touchdowns and ran for 23 more while compiling 3,431 total yards at West Orange High in Winter Garden, Florida. It was a performance good enough to garner the 6′-2″, 235-pounder an Under-Armour All-American selection.
His high school coach said the Tigers, “Really got something special,” with Barrett. He said Woody has a cannon for an arm and had once seen him accurately throw a 70-yard pass off his back foot. When Woody signed with the Tigers, he told reporters he was coming to the Plains with expectations of earning the starting position.
And that goal was not entirely out of the realm of possibility. The No. 6 dual-threat quarterback in the nation could have gone anywhere he desired. He was recruited by most of the top programs in the country, including Alabama and Ohio State. After visits to the Plains he was convinced that Auburn was the place for him.
Yet despite all that, he became an almost-forgotten man in the 2016 quarterback race. To be fair, he arrived at Auburn the end of June and then suffered a preseason ankle sprain. Both of those speed bumps contributed to his being relegated to redshirt status. However, late in the season when a beat up Sean White was not at the top of his game and White’s back ups could not move the offense, some expected Barrett to get his chance.
It looked like the tight contest in Athens, Ga. would have been the most opportune time to insert him in a game. Auburn only needed to make a few first downs to win the game, but apparently coaches were not willing to burn his redshirt for a chance at beating the Tigers’ oldest rival.
With all the hype over Stidham’s transferring, Barrett’s chances have almost looked like a footnote. But Woody hasn’t given up on his dream to win the starting role. And by all accounts, he has worked hard in the off-season, preparing physically and mentally to run the Auburn offense. Gus Malzahn said this week he can see the determination in Woody’s eyes to compete for the job.
With Sean White nursing an injury, he started spring camp working with the number-two offense, but Malzahn has said that’s because all six quarterbacks will get a chance to prove what they can do. What Woody Barrett has to do is prove to new quarterback coach Chip Lindsey that he deserves a shot over not only Jarrett Stidham but the veteran White, senior John Franklin III, red shirt sophomore Tyler Queen and true freshman Malik Willis.
While the favorite appears to be Stidham, is the race almost over before it begins? Is Jarrett Stidham really going to be the starter for the Tigers? Not if Woody Barrett has anything to say about it.