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Friday, Mar. 25, 2011

Andy Bitter: Auburn's Barrett Trotter, Clint Moseley get their chance in the wake of Cam Newton

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AUBURN, Ala. — Barrett Trotter and Clint Moseley aren’t Cam Newton, nor are they pretending to be.

“I made the joke several times,” Trotter told reporters Wednesday, the first day of Auburn’s spring drills. “He didn’t leave me shoes to follow; he left me skis.”

It’s with an open mind and friendly rivalry that the Tigers’ quarterbacks begin the competition for the No. 1 spot this spring.

There’s little pressure to duplicate Newton’s PlayStation-like numbers from last year, the ones that turned him from reclamation project to Heisman Trophy winner in fourth months.

That’s because everyone knows they won’t match them. No one will, perhaps not for another generation.

“Cam was such a different quarterback -- literally like we’ve never seen before,” Moseley said.

But Gus Malzahn runs a quarterback-friendly offense and has made due with mortals before.

He turned three average signal callers at Tulsa into touchdown machines. In his first year at Auburn, he coaxed 2,600 yards and 22 touchdowns out of Chris Todd. He’ll adjust to whomever is under center next year.

Trotter, a 6-foot-3, 206-pound third-year sophomore, has seen it all. He was recruited out of Briarwood Christian High in Birmingham by Al Borges, redshirted during the Tony Franklin fiasco and observed for a year after blowing out his knee once Malzahn arrived.

Fully healthy, he came back to win the backup job last year, even if it was mostly a thankless position. Newton rarely came off the field, and the Tigers played enough close games for Trotter to keep the headset on the majority of the time.

Still, he soaked it all in.

“Looking back from where I was when we first started to try to learn it, and now, it’s leaps-and-bounds difference,” Trotter said. “I think I know it as well as anybody.

“Even trying to help (walk-on) Logan Paul, the new guy coming in, you kind of forget how much you really know until you see somebody out there who doesn’t know much of anything and you’re trying to help them.”

The 6-foot-3, 223-pound Moseley had his hurdles to clear. He tasted nothing but success during his time at Leroy High outside of Mobile, where he won Class 2A state titles his last three years.

But he sulked his first two years on the Plains, relegated to the scout team in 2009 and a distant fourth-stringer last season.

“I just wasn’t where I needed to be as a person, player, anything,” he said. “I threw a lot of pity parties. I felt sorry for myself.”

His career U-turned around the Clemson week last year, when those bits of advice -- the ones he shunned repeatedly -- finally sunk in.

“I started really thinking about how I had been acting,” Moseley said. “It was time to grow up if I ever wanted to play here.”

Now, Moseley and Trotter their chance, with reps to be split all spring and coaches hoping to name a No. 1 shortly after A-Day.

Andy Bitter, abitter@ledger-enquirer.com
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