Being prepared to go in at a moment’s notice won’t be a difficult task for Jonathan Wallace this fall.
After all, Wallace said he is used to it by now, calling upon the experience he got with Auburn last year. No, Wallace might not have been “one play away” from going in at quarterback — it was more like two plays, he said — since he was behind both Kiehl Frazier and Clint Moseley.
However, the sophomore said, it has helped him feel comfortable with his current role, serving as Nick Marshall’s backup entering Saturday’s season opener against Washington State.
“I know what I need to do, and I believe the coaches feel the same way,” he said following Sunday’s practice. “That’s why I’m in the position I am now.”
Offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee made good on Wallace’s words, saying the coaching staff has “got all the confidence in the world” in the Phenix City, Ala., native.
“Jonathan has been great,” Lashlee said. “He comes to work every day. If we hadn’t made a decision, you probably wouldn’t know anything was different, other than maybe the reps have changed for him. If he’s put in there, he’s going to know what to do, he’s going to be prepared and he’s going to do a good job.”
Though three players fought to the end for the right to take over the highly-visible position, Wallace said it was far from nerve-wracking.
In fact, he rather enjoyed it.
“It was a lot of fun and a lot of great competition,” Wallace said. “Nick and Jeremy (Johnson) are both very, very, very good. It really helped us push each other through camp. We just really battled it out, so it was fun.”
While he was obviously disappointed to lose out to Marshall, he understood the decision. He knows the coaching staff is doing what it believes gives the Tigers the best chance to win each week. To help them reach that goal, Wallace said the team needed to support Marshall unequivocally.
And to their credit, he said, they are doing just that.
“There is a lot of pressure if you allow that pressure to affect you,” Wallace said of being Auburn’s starting signal-caller. “I think Nick is handling it very well right now. The team is behind him, that’s the biggest thing.”
Wallace also said he’ll do whatever else the Tigers ask him to do. That includes being a holder with the field goal and extra-point units, which he began to do during fall camp. It wasn’t difficult for him to acclimate to it, recalling his prep career.
“I did it in high school a lot my senior year, so it’s not new to me,” he said. “I’m used to it. Anything that I can do help this team, I’m willing to do it.”
His readiness to take on any responsibility is why he said he “never” considered transferring.
For emphasis, he repeated “never” three times.
“I’m an Auburn man,” he said.