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Thursday, Aug. 04, 2011

Auburn football: Barrett Trotter aims for starting quarterback job

- abitter@ledger-enquirer.com
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AUBURN, Ala. -- For his final term paper as an undergraduate, Auburn quarterback Barrett Trotter had to turn in a 20-page report about how to revitalize a city. He chose Childersburg, Ala.

“It brings a lot to the table, you know? America’s Oldest Working City or something like that,” he said. “You got Selwood Farm, you got the Old Grist Mill. You got the caves, Coosa (River). I said, Have a riverboat casino thing out there.’ ”

He hopes to tackle a more important rebuilding project this season.

Trotter, a redshirt junior who will graduate Saturday after only three years, is one of three quarterbacks who will vie for the Tigers’ starting job.

He faces the unenviable task of having to be the follow up act to the once-in-a-generation talent of Cam Newton, doing so in an offense that returns only three starters from last year’s national championship team.

The competition includes sophomore Clint Moseley and incoming freshman Kiehl Frazier, but the experience edge, albeit minuscule, belongs to Trotter.

The 6-foot-2, 206-pound product of Briarwood Christian in Birmingham beat out Neil Caudle and Moseley for the backup job last season, a year after a knee ligament tear in spring kept him out of action in 2009. But Newton rarely came off the field, something not helped by Auburn’s rash of close games.

Trotter’s experience boiled down garbage time.

He went 6-for-9 for 64 yards and added five rushes for 68 yards and a touchdown that came against Louisiana-Monroe.

Nobody’s confusing him with Newton, and Trotter, to his benefit, isn’t adding that burden to his load.

“Sure, any time you’re in this position, you’re going to feel pressure, much less following Cam and the season we had last year,” he said. “Those things are always going to be there, but it’s something you can’t really focus too much on -- just enough to make you work a little harder maybe.”

Trotter even tuned out Auburn’s flirtation with North Carolina State transfer Russell Wilson this summer. Offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn sat the quarterbacks down and told them the team might add the former runner-up for the ACC Player of the Year.

Trotter didn’t blink.

“That’s fine; bring in whoever you want,” he said. “It’s not going to cause me any trouble if you bring him in. It’s my job to beat him out. It’s not your job not to bring him in.”

Wilson chose Wisconsin in early July, leaving three candidates for the starting job in Auburn: one who hasn’t thrown a pass in a college game (Moseley), one who until Wednesday hadn’t gone through a college practice (Frazier) and one who hasn’t had an opportunity to show what he can do (Trotter).

“I just haven’t been in very much, so I feel like I haven’t really reached my potential,” Trotter said. “I’ve completed passes and handed off and gone through all the motions of playing in a game but haven’t ever really been in the spot where it’s like I’ve got to go out there and win the game and do what it takes to win. Hopefully, that will change here.”

If 2009 is any indication, the competition won’t drag into late August. Malzahn identified Chris Todd as the starter that year on Aug. 13, a week and a half into drills, ending a battle with Kodi Burns and Caudle that failed to produce a No. 1 by the end of spring.

Trotter and Moseley played to a similar draw this spring, meaning a starter should be named soon.

How soon?

Trotter laughed, having heard the question too many times the past several months: “I don’t make predictions.”

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