Auburn football: Looking at the Tigers' quarterbacks for 2014

rblack@ledger-enquirer.comJanuary 18, 2014 

Auburn offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee talks with his quarterbacks (from L-R: Jeremy Johnson, Jonathan Wallace and Nick Marshall) during a practice prior to the BCS championship game.

TODD VAN EMST — Todd J. Van Emst

Editor's note: The 2013 season is in the books. Any underclassmen eligible for the NFL draft have decided whether to return to school or pursue a pro career. And national signing day is drawing closer by the day. With that in mind, Auburn beat writer Ryan Black begins his breakdown of the team's 2014 roster, going position-by-position and giving his take on each spot's future. We start the series with the Tigers' quarterbacks.

Who's Staying: Nick Marshall, senior: 142-for-239 (59.4 percent), 1,976 yards, 14 touchdowns, six interceptions; Rushing: 172 carries, 1,068 yards, 12 TDs

Jeremy Johnson, sophomore: 29-for-41 (70.7 percent), 422 yards, six touchdowns, two interceptions

Jonathan Wallace, junior: 2-for-4 (50 percent), 24 yards

Who's Leaving: Kiehl Frazier: Saw action as "wildcat" quarterback in 2013; transferring to Ouachita Baptist

Who's Coming In: Sean White, freshman: 138-for-217 (63.6 percent), 2,239 yards, 29 touchdowns, six interceptions (Numbers from senior season at University School in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)

Outlook: Auburn won't have any worries about this position heading into the fall.

Marshall returns for another go-round, making him the first signal-caller in Gus Malzahn's time at the collegiate level that he'll have the same quarterback two years in a row. As last season progressed, the Georgia native's comfort level with the Tigers' read-option game increased dramatically, helping the team finish as the top rushing attack in the FBS. While his passing numbers weren't stunning, expect that to improve next season after going through spring practice. (It won't hurt that the Tigers are bringing in D'haquille Williams, considered the top receiver in the 2014 class, either.) If there were any questions about Marshall's passing ability, critics should do so at their own peril.

On multiple occasions, Malzahn has said he'll modify the offense to make sure the Tigers aren't wasting any of Marshall's remarkable playmaking skills.

Should Marshall get slowed down by an injury, Johnson proved last season that he's up to the task. Heck, in his first start, he threw four touchdowns in Auburn's 62-3 romp over Western Carolina. Question the competition if you will, but Johnson continued to showcase his talent later on. Pressed into action after Marshall hurt his shoulder against Florida Atlantic, Johnson responded by going 10-for-16 for 192 yards and a pair of scoring tosses. And in spot duty against Arkansas and Georgia, he came off the sideline, threw one pass, and completed both.

How difficult is that to do?

Just listen to offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee gush about him.

"To come in off the bench cold and complete, not easy throws, to be honest with you, I think that says a lot about his talent and his future potential," Lashlee said in November.

Wallace doesn't have the ceiling of Marshall or Johnson, but pair his steady, even-keeled leadership with the talent Auburn possesses and the Phenix City native certainly could win a game or two next fall if called upon.

As for White, one would assume he'll get a season to sit back and learn the offense under Malzahn's and Lashlee's tutelage — on top of the mentoring he'll receive from the three older signal-callers.

Of course, if both Marshall and Johnson were to suffer long-term injuries, all bets on White's redshirt are off.

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