War Eagle Extra

JUCO transfer Jason Smith shifting from quarterback to receiver

AUBURN, Ala. — The "Jason Smith as quarterback" trial run has expired. And it lasted just five practices. Smith, who transferred to Auburn this spring after spending the last two years at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, originally joined the Tigers planning to compete for the starting quarterback position. Almost immediately, however, Smith also took reps at receiver and punt returner when Auburn began spring practice March 10.

Now, Smith will focus almost exclusively on catching passes, not throwing them.

"We’re really trying to transition him into the wide receiver spot," coach Gus Malzahn said in a post-practice interview Tuesday. "He’ll still have some type of package or role as far playing quarterback. We’re still trying to find out what that is. In defense of him, we want to give him a chance to learn the wide receiver position and everything that goes with it."

When asked why the decision was made so quickly, Malzahn said it wasn't actually a move suggested by he or another member of the coaching staff. Instead, Smith took the initiative.

"It was kind of one of those deals, he’s got the ability. He’s a very talented quarterback, too," Malzahn said. "We wanted to give him a real chance to play quarterback. He just ... came to the coaches and said, 'Hey, I’d like to transition into receiver.' So that’s kinda where it went."

According to Malzahn, the Tigers will still set aside certain plays and packages where Smith can line up at quarterback and take advantage of his athleticism. But that won't be Smith's main concern anymore.

He's a receiver now — and one the team believes can contribute immediately.

"He’s extremely talented," Malzahn said. "He wants to be good and he’s coachable. I think he’s got a real chance to really help us."