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Tuesday, Apr. 20, 2010

Auburn football notes: Tigers head coach Gene Chizik insists all four quarterbacks remain in race

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Although coaches missed spring goal of naming a starter, Chizik sees benefits

By ANDY BITTER

abitter@ledger-enquirer.com

AUBURN, Ala. — Auburn head coach Gene Chizik said again Monday that the Tigers’ quarterback competition will likely carry over into the summer.

He added that all four quarterbacks — Neil Caudle, Cam Newton, Barrett Trotter and Clint Moseley — remain in the race.

While the coaches’ stated goal at the start of spring was to name a starter, Chizik thinks there could be some benefits to allowing the competition to carry on.

“It depends on how you look at it,” he said. “There are some things that maybe aren’t as positive for you from the standpoint of who your starter’s going to be — your leadership, them taking charge because they know they’re the starter.

“The other side of that is keeping everybody working and challenging and competing for the position.”

The quarterbacks haven’t been clued in about where they stand.

“We’ll meet with (offensive coordinator Gus) Malzahn some day this week, and I’m pretty sure he’ll go over that with us,” Newton said. “But it’s really not important right now. Today, it was clear to see what the coaches expected of all the quarterbacks — the role that we have to play this summer, and just controlling things when coaches aren’t there.”

Asked if he would feel comfortable with a starter if Auburn had to play its first game tomorrow, Chizik didn’t think so.

“Thank god we don’t have to name him tomorrow,” he said. “We need more time.”

Bottom of the heap

Despite Chizik’s statements, Moseley, a redshirt freshman who spent last year with the scout team, thinks he might be the low man on the totem poll.

“Being the younger one, I feel like I’m the least ready,” he said. “I realize I’m at a major disadvantage.”

Moseley, who led tiny Leroy (Ala.) High to three straight state titles, thinks he made strides this spring, especially after having what he called a “negative attitude” last fall. Things changed after a heart-to-heart with a graduate assistant.

“It’s about how I handle criticism,” he said. “I come from a little school. I was criticized, but not too much. I’ve never been chewed out the way I’ve been up here. Malzahn always tells me it’s the mental part of it that’s holding me back. It just never sunk in. I don’t know why. It finally sunk in.”

Moseley, who said he never seriously considered transferring, said things turned around near the end of spring. His attitude is better and confidence is up, even if he thinks he’s trailing in the race.

“I feel like the summer is going to be really good for me, depending on how I handle it,” he said. “I’m not going to give up yet.”

Haiti bound

Defensive tackle Mike Blanc, safety Mike McNeil, defensive end Antoine Carter, Newton and a handful of other Auburn football players are planning to make a humanitarian trip to Haiti this May to help an orphanage in the wake of January’s devastating earthquake.

“I’m ecstatic about it,” Newton said. “I couldn’t believe it at first when they told me I was going. It’s very fun to go and help people in Haiti, and to see how blessed we are as individuals in the United States, and to just help out any way that I can.”

Blanc is of Haitian descent but had never visited the country. His father, Moname, was in Haiti when a 7.0 magnitude earthquake hit the island country earlier this year, but he emerged OK.

The upcoming Auburn trip is being organized by Chizik’s wife, Jonna, who visited Haiti with Malzahn’s wife, Kristi, earlier this year.

“She came back with a lot of stuff to say,” Newton said. “I guess she was getting a vibe on who really wanted to go and who really wanted to help out.”

Tyrik update

Chizik said he’ll touch base with redshirt freshman quarterback Tyrik Rollison before schools ends.

Rollison, one of the prizes of the team’s 2009 class, sat out this spring to focus on academics, amid reports last winter that he intends to transfer elsewhere.

“I can’t give you any positives one way or the other, but I will assure you that when we know, we will get it out there and it will be clear-cut,” Chizik said.

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