AUBURN, Ala. — Auburn did not name a No. 2 quarterback behind Chris Todd on Thursday night. That’s because offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn wants to take a nice, long look at freshman Tyrik Rollison.
Rollison, the No. 2 dual-threat quarterback recruit in the country last year, will get the majority of snaps with the second team in the next three weeks instead of junior Neil Caudle.
“We have more information about Neil than Tyrik, so we’re going to give Tyrik quite a few reps,” Malzahn said. “We really need to see where he’s at. He’s a talented young man, but at the same time, it takes a lot to run this offense.”
Rollison will have to come out of his shell. The freshman described himself as not being “a verbal dude.” It took until Friday for the quiet quarterback to inform members of the media that the proper pronunciation of his first name is Tie-RICK, not Tie-REEK. He said his high school team in Sulphur Springs, Texas, communicated in silence using signals.
“Here our quarterbacks have to be verbal,” he said. “They have to talk and speak up. They have to be loud. … It’s pretty tough because I have to come out of my comfort zone of being quiet.”
Caudle has been passed over for the starting quarterback job before. That doesn’t make Thursday’s news any easier.
“It gets tougher and tougher each time,” he said. “My time’s running out.”
The junior, who has thrown eight passes in three years on the Plains, is trying to regroup after coming up short in his bid for Auburn’s starting gig. After finishing the spring as the co-leader along with Kodi Burns, Caudle’s best hope now is to finish August as the Tigers’ backup quarterback.
Caudle said he hasn’t thought about transferring, instead focusing on what he can do to support the team in any capacity he can this year, even in a backup role.
“I know the offense as well as anybody,” he said. “I know it really well. I still know I can go out there and win games. I’m still confident as far as the backup job goes.”
A new ’backer
In an effort to add some depth to its linebacking corps, Auburn is trying true freshman defensive end Dee Ford at weak-side linebacker.
Defensive coordinator Ted Roof likes the 6-foot-4, 214-pound Ford’s ability to shed blocks, as well as his nose for the football. It’s just a matter of teaching him a new position.
“Your picture expands,” Roof said of playing at a stand-up spot. “When you have your hand in the dirt, your picture is much smaller. When you stand up, all of a sudden you’re exposed to a bunch more blades or grass, a bunch more moving parts and threats and coverages and adjustments and all those types of things.”
Ford provides another body to a group ravaged by injuries. Of the seven scholarship linebackers on the roster, four have missed parts of practice this August.
Projected weak-side starter Eltoro Freeman’s right hand is currently in a cast. The sophomore was in an orange, non-contact jersey Friday but remained on the sideline during practice.
Cornerback Taikwon Paige, who spent the last two years at Georgia Military College, was not approved by the NCAA Clearinghouse, according to AuburnSports.com.
Of Auburn’s 28 2009 signees, 21 are enrolled in school. In addition to Paige, five others — DB Reggie Taylor, WR LaVoyd James, DB Izauea Lanier, DL Josh Jackson and DL Terrance Coleman — either failed to meet the academic requirements or opted for junior college. Another, running back Brandon Jacobs, chose to play baseball, agreeing to terms with the Boston Red Sox.
Malzhan said true freshman quarterback Clint Moseley will continue to get reps and isn’t necessarily guaranteed to redshirt this season. … Running back Ben Tate was named to the watch list for the Maxwell Award watch list, given annually to the nation’s most outstanding player. … Auburn will have its second scrimmage this afternoon. It is closed to the public. … Auburn’s Fan Day is scheduled for Sunday from 3-5 p.m. at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Admission is free. … Former Tigers star running back Bo Jackson attended practice the last two days and addressed the team. “It’s just great to have guys that made Auburn great come back and talk to everybody about how special the place is,” head coach Gene Chizik said. “It’s awesome to have him back around.”