As a native of Stephenville, Texas, Jarrett Stidham played college football in the state and even looked to continue that after leaving Baylor. On Thursday, the Auburn quarterback explained how exactly he wound up leaving the Lone Star State.
Stidham was asked about how Texas A&M recruited him after he left Baylor and played one year at McLennan Community College in Waco, Texas. Stidham explained that despite his efforts to go to another Texas school, the Aggies coaching staff didn’t exactly roll the red carpet out for him.
“[Beating Texas A&M last year] was very satisfying in College Station just because of how the whole recruiting thing went,” Stidham said. “Honestly, I probably recruited myself to Texas A&M a little bit harder than they recruited me. I didn’t talk to [head coach Kevin] Sumlin very much. I talked to [offensive coordinator Noel] Mazzone a little bit more. Everything happens for a reason.”
Stidham impressed in his first season at Auburn, throwing for 3,158 yards and 18 touchdowns with six interceptions. Without Stidham, the Aggies went 7-5 before firing Sumlin. Sumlin and Mazzone are now at Arizona.
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Stidham’s return makes him only the second Auburn starting quarterback to come back for a second year in the nine seasons Gus Malzahn has been either offensive coordinator or head coach.
“I felt like he just did a great job leading our offense and leading our team. He threw for 3,000 yards, he recently graduated and he recently got engaged. He’s got a lot going on getting ready for this season,” Malzahn said. “The way he was playing the middle part of the year and the end of the year was really phenomenal. I’ve said this before, but from a quarterback standpoint, in this league there’s nothing like experience.”
Stidham has been given clearance to check out of plays in 2018, a luxury he was not given in his debut year. He said that was part of the allure of returning to Auburn, as was being more comfortable with Malzahn and offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey.
Stidham said he doesn’t anticipate this year’s kickoff game against Washington looking like his debut in a big game last season, an 11-sack disaster against Clemson in Auburn’s second game.
“I think the season opener will be a lot different than Clemson last year,” Stidham said. “I think at that point, I was still trying to feel out Coach Malzahn and Coach Lindsey and how they coached, and I think they were trying to feel out me, how I played, what my strengths were, what my weaknesses were. I think we got a good understanding throughout the year of what we could and couldn’t do. I think this year what kind of offense we want to be. In fall camp, I think we’ll be able to establish that at an early point and really hit on it from there on out.”
Stidham had his eyes set on College Station after being a Baylor Bear. While Stidham’s would-be plan didn’t come to fruition, it seems the rising junior has fit right in with the Tigers.
“I love Auburn. I love everything about it,” Stidham said. “I’m an alum now, which is kind of weird to think. It’s a good place with a lot of good people. I’m just trying to do my job, make friendships and lifelong relationships along the way. I want to help the team win and help these guys win ball games and do whatever I can.”