The people in line to see Auburn backup quarterback Sean White Sunday was the definition of a story line.
He listened, if for just a few seconds, to their story and even told his story when prompted.
White, the man who is arguably one play away from being one of the most critical members of the Auburn football team, sat through a 90-minute autograph session at Auburn’s Fan Day hearing all kinds of different stories. The Tigers backup quarterback signed several jerseys that obviously didn’t have his number on them because when you haven’t played yet nobody in the Auburn team shop thinks to put a No. 13 jersey in the store windows just yet. White, a former four-star recruit from Hollywood, Fla., heard from hundreds of fans why they were at Fan Day, how far away they’d come for the event and even some told him how excited they were that nearly two years ago White made the choice to attend Auburn.
Auburn fans dressed in orange and blue wanted to tell their story but since White hasn’t been allowed to speak on the record since his signing announcement to Auburn, others were much more interested in learning about him. In one 35-minute period, one fan needed to be reminded or told what his name was. One fan was reminded what position he played. As White signed the poster for another fan, she needed to be told White was just a redshirt freshman because as she put it he “just looked so darn young”. More fans, who were familiar with the basics of White’s biography page, would quickly throw some kind of question as to whether White will see the playing field in the 2015 season.
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“I sure hope so,” White would say in some form nearly every time.
There was the mother of Tre’ Williams, Charleste Vaughn McMillian, who demanded that White stand up and give him a hug. Happy to see a mother of another second-year player, White immediately agreed.
“I’m ready to start the season now,” White said after the embrace.
After a woman pushing a baby stroller thanked White for his signature, the quarterback peered into the stroller to notice her child was completely asleep.
“Long day for him too huh?,” White said to his mother.
“Not as long as you I imagine,” the mother of the newborn baby quipped. The woman pushing the stroller had no idea at all. White had time to ask people where they were from, pose for group pictures with Myron Burton Jr., the receiver at his autograph table and even take a bathroom break.
White made his attitude clear to fan who thanks him for doing the autograph session after the quarterback signed his white collectable Auburn football.
“Are you kidding me?” White said with a smile. “This is better than being out at practice in 95 degree heat.”
White appeared to have even less problem playing traffic cop when his line intersected with another relatively noted player’s autograph line. During the autograph session, White’s line crossed with another quarterback: Jeremy Johnson. It was at that moment, White realized the cliche of the backup quarterback being the most popular person on the roster isn’t necessarily true.
White’s bathroom break was not a luxury Johnson couldn’t afford in the two-hour session.
Johnson, a Montgomery native, saw his autograph line be a non-stop swarm of people draped in orange and blue. The mass of people to get a glimpse of the junior quarterback stretched further than the 94-foot Auburn Arena playing court and nearly winded out one of the exit tunnels.
With his leading receiver D’haquille Williams absent from the Fan Day festivities due to what head coach Gus Malzahn’s said was a “discipline issue”, Auburn officials decided to sit junior receiver Marcus Davis next to Johnson. This action led two results: One, Auburn officials had to remind folks of the two lines for the separate players and secondly, it allowed Davis to, more than occasionally, be a spectator watching his Johnson practice his signature hundreds of times.
“I definitely think he’s special,” Davis said about Johnson Tuesday after the team’s second practice. “That guy is really intelligent. I believe he can make all the throws on the field. He's ready (because) he sat and waited and he's ready to take his opportunity to the next level.”
During the middle part of the autograph session, a fan in a orange polo shirt quipped to White that he “would only have to wait a few more years to be in that long line” pointing to Johnson’s swarm of humanity. Maybe more accurately, the very next fan in line who brought his young son dressed in his Auburn jersey uttered the following when he asked for his son to get a picture with White.
“I wanted [my son] to get this picture now,” he said. “In a couple of years I may not have the time to wait in line for it.”