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Auburn OC Rhett Lashlee explains what won Sean White the starting quarterback job

Auburn quarterback Sean White warms up before the team plays Idaho at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
Auburn quarterback Sean White warms up before the team plays Idaho at Jordan-Hare Stadium. mniziolek@ledger-enquirer.com

Auburn quarterback Sean White takes critiques of his game personally. Questions about his arm strength, size and athleticism have dogged the sophomore since high school.

While he’s often proved his doubters wrong, the uphill battle he’s climbed to become the starter on the Plains has fueled his competitive nature, something that helped him win the starting job.

“He was the last guy invited to the Elite 11 and goes out there and wins it,” Lashlee said. “He’s an alternate in the Under Armour game and wins the MVP. He’s kind of always played with that chip on his shoulder.”

Offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee spoke with the media Sunday afternoon for the first time since the team announced White as the Tigers’ starter for Sept. 3 against Clemson.

How did White win a competition that didn’t have a frontrunner just days before? The Florida native’s consistency gave him an edge over Jeremy Johnson and John Franklin III.

“Over the course of the competition he was extremely consistent that was probably the overarching theme,” Lashlee said.

Lashlee also went back to White’s toughness multiple times. It didn’t go unnoticed in Auburn’s locker room how much the team respected White.

“I think he proved last year he’s tough, probably to a fault,” Lashlee said. “Sometimes you would like him to avoid some of these crazy hits he would take in the pocket. The big thing is he’s got the toughness to stand in there and take it. I think your teammates respect that.”

The offensive coordinator expects the sophomore to be smarter in protecting himself this year, but not at the cost of his playing style.

Lashlee did go back and address the critics who question White’s arm strength and athleticism. As the team game plans for Clemson, there’s not a call — run or pass — in Auburn’s playbook that Lashlee wouldn’t feel comfortable calling for No. 13.

“Before the injury really took effect he could make all the throws and he was a pretty good athlete,” Lashlee said. “I think he pulled a read and ran 40 yards against Mississippi State. He’s a better runner than people would give him credit for, but when he hurt his knee and in particular his foot, it changed a lot of things. Being the foot you plant on makes it tough too. His arm has been able to make all of the throws we’ve asked any of the guys to make.”

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