As the end of January 2010 came upon us, it was clear that Auburn had several slots to fill on the Tiger football team. Arguably the most important position that needed filling was at quarterback. Chris Todd had just broken many team records in route to an 8-5 finish for the rebuilding team.
Many not close to the program assumed that senior Neil Caudle would inherit the position. Those more accustomed to how the team worked felt there would be an open and non biased competition for the spot as the leader of the Auburn Tigers. This turned out to be the case.
Junior Cameron Newton, Sophomore Barrett Trotter, Senior Neil Caudle and Freshman Clint Moseley were to take part in what would be a ferocious competition for the starting job that would last until the week after spring practice.
Barrett Trotter proved to be the better passer with the least tendency to throw interceptions. Cameron Newton was also adequate at passing and had showed a huge leadership upside. His scrambling ability was already far ahead of the others. Clint Moseley still needed time to adjust to the speed of the SEC and Senior Neil Caudle put on a show that would have won the job one year earlier.
When the smoke cleared, it was a very difficult decision for offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn. He did not pick the better passer, he picked the better leader. Cameron Newton was to be the 2010 starting quarterback. The rest is the history of a historical season where he led the Tigers to the pinnacle of College Football.
No sane person could expect one player to replace Cameron Newton and the void he filled on the 2010 Tigers team. That kind of athlete and performance only comes around a few times in one’s lifetime. All college football fans were fortunate to have been alive to witness Newton’s performance in 2010.
As expected, Newton has decided to apply his trade to the NFL next season. We all wish him well. Thanks for the memories Cameron Newton.
The 2011 season for the Auburn Tigers will start exactly as the 2010 season did due to this choice. For the third time in as many years, Auburn needs a quarterback. Most assume the process will be the same this year as well. An open and impartial competition is expected to fill the open slot once again.
Junior Barrett Trotter, sophomore Clint Moseley and freshman Keihl Frazier will compete for the open slot. Frazier will be at some disadvantage as he will not be on campus for spring practice. He will make his statement in the summer.
Trotter and Moseley will compete this spring in a head to head competition. The winner will be the favorite for the slot as summer practices roll around. There will be an atmosphere of competition for the position right up to opening day of the 2011 season.
While the starter will likely have been named long before, that spot is not secure until it's earned on the field.
With the huge advantage of spring practice and spending years in the Malzahn system, it is expected that either Trotter or Moseley will eventually be the starter in 2011. Neither is another Cameron Newton, but both are very talented and bring a great set of tools to the table.
Neither Trotter nor Moseley will take the part of one of the most successful short yardage backs in Auburn history. This is another open slot that will need to be worked out. It is expected that open competition will also decide the starter at this position.
Senior Eric Smith, sophomore Michael Dyer and freshman Ladarius Phillips will be the most likely competitors for this slot. Other freshmen coming from the 2011 recruiting class will be given a chance in the summer as well. This is one of the most important and coveted positions on the team and the competition will be fierce. All Auburn running backs want to be the go-to guy when the chips are down.
It is unlikely that either Trotter or Moseley will be the wildcat quarterback. This was a slot that Cameron Newton filled as the season progressed due to the injury and subsequent red shirting of wild cat quarterback Trovon Reed. Reed is the most likely player to fill this void in 2011.
As is the common practice, there will be a fair and unbiased spirit of competition for all positions right up to opening day.
All of the above players are more than adequate replacements for different functions that Cameron Newton carried out for the team. The one function that is not apparent at this point is the leadership.
Trotter or Moseley will have to prove they have the calm and calculated focus and leadership that was a trademark of Cameron Newton as a quarterback. It was this ability that separated him the most from the average college quarterback.