AUBURN, Ala. (AP) Jarrett Stidham remembers the date of his last snap in a game, even though it’s been awhile.
The former Baylor quarterback won’t have to wait much longer for his next one. He has won Auburn’s starting job going into the season opener after spending last fall at a junior college that didn’t have a football program.
”I haven’t played since Nov. 21 of 2015,” Stidham said Monday, hours after being told the job was his. ”I know exactly when my last snap was, and I’m itching to get back out there.”
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That will happen Sept. 2 against Georgia Southern, a date that Stidham said has been marked on his calendar since he arrived on campus.
The Tigers are banking on him to help jump-start the passing game and the offense.
Coach Gus Malzahn announced his choice of Stidham in a Twitter post Monday after informing the team. The 6-foot-3, 214-pound sophomore enrolled in January as the nation’s top-rated junior college prospect. He beat out Sean White, who has gone 9-7 in starts over the past two seasons despite injury problems.
Malzahn said White is the No. 2 quarterback and ”could start for a whole lot of teams in this league.”
After the announcement, White Tweeted: ”All in!! War Eagle.”
Malzahn said Stidham’s leadership and ability to win over his teammates and coaches stood out as much as the on-the-field abilities.
”He is a gym rat as far as football goes,” Malzahn said. ”He’s always in the film room trying to get better. He’s got an extremely strong arm. He’s got a lot of skills that could be a very good quarterback.”
The Tigers ranked 112th nationally in passing offense last season and 49th in scoring. Stidham figures to bring more downfield passing, and perhaps more mobility, to the up-tempo offense run by Malzahn and new offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey than Auburn has had since Nick Marshall left after the 2014 season.
”I think he’s a lot better athlete than people think,” Malzahn said. ”He runs a 4.6 (40). He’s got a 35-inch vertical. He’s pretty athletic.”
Stidham was the offensive MVP in Auburn’s spring game, when White was sidelined while recovering from surgery to repair a broken right forearm sustained in the Sugar Bowl loss to Oklahoma.
Stidham passed for 1,165 yards and 12 touchdowns as a freshman at Baylor in 2015.
He left Baylor after Art Briles was fired. He was expected to back up Seth Russell last season, and said the move was just what was best for his career.
”Me and my family just thought that was the best move for me,” Stidham said. ”Just didn’t know really what was going to go on moving forward at Baylor.”
The move is working out well so far.
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