War Eagle Extra

Gus Malzahn hints at possible position change for John Franklin III

Auburn quarterback John Franklin III could change positions this spring.
Auburn quarterback John Franklin III could change positions this spring. mniziolek@ledger-enquirer.com

Auburn coach Gus Malzahn isn’t committed to keeping John Franklin III at quarterback for the duration of spring practice.

Malzahn previously shot the scenario down, but that’s not what happened when he was asked about it again Tuesday.

“He’s going to start out at quarterback, and he’ll get reps today and tomorrow at quarterback along with the other four guys,” Malzahn said.

Malzahn stressed the importance of quickly narrowing the field in Auburn’s quarterback competition to consolidate the reps to a “handful of guys.”

What happens if Franklin isn’t part of that group?

“John is open to helping the team with whatever, but we just felt strong that he should start out and try to win the job at quarterback, and so that’s what we’ll do,” Malzahn said.

Franklin worked as a gunner on special teams Tuesday during the portion of practice open to the media, but Malzahn didn’t discuss what Franklin’s role might be if he falls out of the quarterback race.

The former junior college transfer was 27 of 47 for 312 yards last year with a touchdown and two interceptions. He was more effective running the ball with 46 carries for 430 yards with two touchdowns.

Franklin only made one start, but played in all 13 games, seeing the field mostly as a wildcat quarterback and helping close out blowout wins.

When Franklin’s number was called in the Sugar Bowl, he had high hopes of leading Auburn to victory, but cramping in his throwing arm cut the opportunity short.

“I was real angry,” Franklin said after the game. “I was mad because my opportunity was here and I couldn’t do anything with it. I was feeling real good coming in here at halftime, ready to go (back) in and that made me real frustrated.”

Franklin has publicly committed to staying at Auburn for his final year of eligibility twice, but he’s qualified those comments in each case adding his plans “as of now” and “for now” playing his last season on the Plains.

Michael Niziolek: 334-332-8572, @wareagleextra

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