Auburn senior quarterback Nick Marshall hasn't made headlines for the right reasons this offseason after leading the Tigers to a 12-2 record, an SEC title and a berth in the BCS National Championship in 2013.
Marshall received a citation for marijuana possession in July and won't start Auburn's Aug. 30 season opener against Arkansas as a result. On Sunday, the quarterback spoke to the media for the first time since the incident, saying, via Charles Goldberg of AuburnTigers.com:
I made a mistake and I'm just trying to gain my trust back from the coaches. I let my family down and I'm also trying to gain their trust back and also the Auburn fans.
The incident that happened, it's just going to change me as a better man on and off the field.
Per James Crepea of the Montgomery Advertiser, the quarterback also said, "It's been tough because I'm not too much worried about the Heisman. I'm trying to go out there and win the trust of my teammates."
These statements were solely intended for the press, as Crepea tweeted none of Marshall's teammates or coaches were in attendance:
No Auburn players or coaches attended the press conferences of Jonathon Mincy and Nick Marshall.— James Crepea (@JamesCrepea) August 10, 2014
John Zenor of the Associated Press explained that Marshall had previously apologized to the team:
Nick Marshall says he apologized to his teammates and told them it wouldn't happen again.— John Zenor (@jzenor) August 10, 2014
Head coach Gus Malzahn is still in Marshall's corner going forward. He said earlier this month that the dynamic signal-caller is "still our quarterback," according to Alex Scarborough of ESPN.com.
In 2013, Marshall broke out as a dual-threat quarterback, passing for 1,976 yards and 14 touchdowns while rushing for 1,068 yards and 12 scores. This season, Marshall will be heavily leaned upon as he orchestrates Auburn's offense without the presence of speedy running back Tre Mason, whom the St. Louis Rams drafted in the third round of the most recent NFL draft.
Bleacher Report's Michael Felder, Barrett Sallee and Adam Kramer broke down Marshall's upside and outlook for the 2014 season:
Unfortunately, we'll have to wait to see the quarterback in action due to the team-imposed benching that will force him to sit out for an undisclosed amount of time against Arkansas.
Until Marshall returns, we can expect to see sophomore Jeremy Johnson take the reins. Last season, Johnson looked sharp in limited snaps, completing 70.7 percent of his passes for 422 yards, six touchdowns and two interceptions.
While Johnson looked fine in that small sample size, Auburn will need Marshall back in the fold to remain competitive in a very difficult SEC. A threatening presence on the football field, Marshall's playmaking ability with his arm and legs will continue to cause nightmares for opposing defensive coordinators.
With a full year of experience under his belt, Marshall should be expected to take some significant steps forward this season. If that's the case, we will certainly be hearing his name mentioned in Heisman Trophy conversations on a regular basis.
Auburn is currently ranked No. 5 in the Amway Coaches Poll and has substantial aspirations for the season ahead.