War Eagle Extra

Spring practice observations: John Franklin III at WR full time, coaches mix defensive starters in with backups

John Franklin III, pictured stretching on Tuesday, March 7, isn't wearing the orange non-contact jersey at practice.
John Franklin III, pictured stretching on Tuesday, March 7, isn't wearing the orange non-contact jersey at practice. mniziolek@ledger-enquirer.com

Auburn’s quarterback competition is down to five competitors.

John Franklin III is the odd man out with the former quarterback transitioning to a full-time role with the wide receivers.

While Franklin spent Auburn’s first three spring practices “primarily” with the quarterbacks, he didn’t throw a single pass during the Tuesday’s open viewing period. Franklin participated in wide receivers drills and wasn’t wearing the standard orange non-contact jerseys given to quarterbacks.

The early position change for Franklin is consistent with the timeline coach Gus Malzahn laid out at the start of spring practice. Malzahn said offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey would narrow the reps down to a handful of quarterbacks before the team gets a more than a week off for spring break after Thursday’s practice.

Wide receiver coach Kodi Burns kept a close eye on Franklin during a footwork drill, which the former quarterback struggled with.

“Boy, do we still got some work to do,” Burns said with a laugh.

Franklin didn’t get any reps when Auburn ran a 11-on-11 pace drill giving a series of plays to the first and second team.

Quick hits

* Auburn was in pads Tuesday with coaches quick to blow the whistle at contact during the 11-on-11 period. It saved running back Malik Miller from getting bowled over by hard-hitting linebacker Darrell Williams. Miller, taking a hand-off from Woody Barrett, couldn’t get out of the backfield on the play with Williams plugging up the gap alongside defensive tackle Dontavius Russell.

* Williams and Russell spent the drill with the second team defense. Auburn mixed last year’s defensive starters in with the backups giving Russell reps next to redshirt freshman Antwuan Jackson. Darrell Williams, Tre’ Williams and early enrollee Chandler Wooten were the second team linebackers.

* Jarrett Stidham completed two of three passes as the first team quarterback during the 11-on-11 period. Stidham targeted Will Hastings twice with one of the throws missing the mark wide right. The first team receivers were Hastings, Jason Smith, Nate Craig-Myers and Eli Stove.

* Sean White did some light throwing with the other quarterbacks Tuesday. The quarterbacks ran individual drills for one five-minute period during the open viewing window with White attempting a handful of passes.

* Former Auburn quarterback Jeremy Johnson was at Auburn’s athletic facility Tuesday while last year’s starting right tackle Robert Leff attended practice. Leff watched the offensive lineman work with his former position coach Herb Hand during the open viewing period.

Michael Niziolek: 334-332-8572, @wareagleextra