The battle to earn the top spot at quarterback on Gus Malzahn's first depth chart at Auburn should be intriguing when the Tigers open fall camp in August.
Junior Kiehl Frazier, sophomore Jonathan Wallace, freshman Jeremy Johnson and junior college transfer Nick Marshall will all be in the mix.
Of the four, Marshall is the most intriguing.
The former Georgia defensive back played quarterback last season at Garden City (Kan.) Community College, throwing for 3,142 yards, 18 touchdowns and 20 interceptions while adding 1,095 yards and 19 touchdowns on the ground.
Not bad, especially considering his offense was changed shortly before the season started. But those 20 interceptions are a concern for Malzahn.
"We feel like he was a very talented quarterback coming out of high school," Malzahn said. "Of course, he went to another SEC school and played a different position, and that tells you what kind of athlete he is. He's got phenomenal talent.''
As for the interceptions, Malzahn said junior colleges don't have coaching staffs large enough to give quarterbacks the same level of attention they would receive at a school like Auburn. He said he is excited about Marshall's potential. "We're going to give him a chance."
How talented is he? Check out this throw from his team's 15-yard line to the opponent's 15-yard line.
But it isn't just Marshall that has a chance to come in and win the job.
Johnson, a 4-star prospect, according to 247Sports.com, signed with Auburn out of Carver High School in Montgomery and will also factor prominently in the four-horse race. A 6'5", 215-pound pro-style signal-caller, he has the arm strength to remind Tiger fans of former quarterback Jason Campbell.
"Jeremy Johnson is a guy who I recruited since eighth or ninth grade," Malzahn said. "I know a lot about him. He's got an NFL-type arm. He has run an offense similar to this before, so it's going to be a matter of how quick he can pick everything up. We're going to give him an equal shot."
Can either of the newbies crash the party and win the job?
Don't be surprised if Marshall emerges as the guy.
Malzahn's offense, while explosive, is a two-back, downhill offense out of the spread. Marshall's ability to make 3rd-and-short situations near-"gimmes" while still stretching the field could be precisely what this offense needs in its first year under Malzahn.
However it shakes out, the quarterback battle on the Plains should be one of the most interesting storylines during fall camp in the SEC.
Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC writer for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained firsthand.
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