Replacing Cam Newton is no easy task for the Auburn Tigers. But, if Coach Gene Chizik is half the coach his Coach of the Year award insists, its not about replacing Cam, it's about getting the right fit for this year’s offense.
Barrett Trotter, Clint Moseley and Kiehl Frazier endured the dog days of Alabama summer in a heated contest to see who would be the leading quarterback of the Tigers. It was a well-kept, secretive exercise led by the offensive genius Gus Malzahn, putting the three young men through the exhaustive rigors of two-a-days in triple-digit heat indexes.
But the answer to the question had more to do with what was already known about these guys in terms of their careers, their character and what future each has with the Tigers. Let’s take a look at each of the three back before they set foot on the Loveliest Village on the Plains and after.
Trotter played at Briarwood Christian in Birmingham and threw for 7,968 passing yards, 88 touchdowns and 23 interceptions during his high school career.
This was in the 6A division of Alabama high school football.
For those not familiar, Alabama High School Football is the fiercest competitive football ecosystem in the country, rivaled only by Texas. It’s a way of life in Alabama and Friday Night Lights could easily be set in the Heart of Dixie.
6A is the top of the system in Alabama, configured by the biggest schools, the best talent and competitive recruiting from the biggest college programs in the country. Some of the Alabama 6A high school football programs could give college teams a real run for their money.
Barrett Trotter excelled at this level. His passing and touchdowns are still school records at Briarwood and his 88 touchdowns rank as third in all-time Alabama State High School history.
He completed 63 percent of his passes, led his 2007 team to the state semi-finals rushing for 610 yards on 104 attempts and six touchdowns during his senior season. He was named All-State 6A first-team quarterback, ASWA Super 12, Birmingham News Metro Player of the Year, ScoutSouth.com Star of Alabama, Mr. Football 5A Back of the Year and finalist for Mr. Football. This kid was destined for greatness.
Committing to Auburn, Trotter was redshirted in 2008, but he took the lessons learned from the quarterback duels of Kobi Burns and Chris Todd.
Looking back, being redshirted is a situation to be coveted, and not a slap-in-the-face. The coaches believe in you, it’s just not this year son. It gives a player the chance to learn more and gives them one more year to play the game. The impatience of youth sometimes doesn’t realize the redshirt opportunity, but Trotter seemed to take the mature route with lessons to be learned waiting for the day to bring his talents to bear for the Tigers.
In 2009, Trotter was named to the SEC Academic honor roll, but had to sit out the season due to injury. Given the former, this kid wasn’t resting on his football laurels he earned in high school; he was making something of the opportunity outside of the game. That attitude makes him a winner and don’t think it went unnoticed.
In 2010, he was behind probably the best college quarterback to play the game in Cam Newton. Did he learn some things? You bet he did and with a good head around it too. When asked if he could fill Cam’s shoes, Barrett responded, “he didn’t leave shoes, he left skis.”
So, 2011 is Barrett Trotter’s time. Gus Malzahn and Gene Chizik recognize this and given his attitude, talent and maturity, this guy is ready to make his mark on the game for Auburn. He is a different quarterback than Cam Newton, but has plenty of supporting offense with Michael Dyer, Onterio McCalebb, freshman Tre Mason, Philip Lutzenkirchen and Emory Blake. This should provide Trotter with plenty of team support and it will be exciting to watch him resurrect his high school glory.
Clint Moseley also excelled in Alabama High School football, playing for Leroy High School in Leroy, Alabama. This was in the 2008 2A division.
He was named Alabama's Mr. Football as a senior by the Alabama Sports Writers Association, as well as the Class 2A All-State team and the Class 2A Back of the Year.
Moseley also led Leroy to a 15-0 record and its third straight state championship, earning MVP honors in the title game. In addition to his quarterback duties, he served as the team's kicker, making 23-of-29 extra points and a field goal on his only attempt. Rivals.com ranked him 19th nationally among dual-threat quarterbacks and 31st on the Alabama Postseason Top 40, and the list goes on and on.
This is an all around athlete, given the kicking game, passing for 3,758 yards with 35 touchdowns and his ability to run. He gained 670 yards and 15 scores on 119 carries. This guy could play at any position and he chose to go to Auburn. His first season was in 2009.
Clint Moseley was redshirted in 2009, and considering the quarterback situation at the time, he should have welcomed it as a learning period.
He went into 2010 as a freshman, the way football considered him, but he had Trotter and of course Cam Newton in front of him. Still, there was an opportunity to work closely with Cam and Gus Malzahn. He did see some limited action rushing for eight yards against Louisiana Monroe.
In 2011, Moseley begins the season as a sophomore with three seasons yet to be played. He was part of a battle between three quarterbacks including Barrett Trotter and Kiehl Frazier to see who should be the starter and Clint wasn't chosen. However, he is the backup to Trotter.
There are some valid reasons why Moseley wasn't chosen as the starter and I believe Malzahn and Chizik understand all too well why.
Barrett Trotter is more seasoned, mature and frankly talented. Also Trotter seems to have a better attitude about what it is to be on a team.
When confronted with the news of the choice for starter, Clint Moseley didn’t take the news too well, saying it was the most disappointing day of his life.
I understand there are a lot of fans out there that feel bad for Clint, however I have one name for you; Kodi Burns. Enough said right now
Needless to say, Clint Moseley should relish the backup position and learn to run the offense as well as or better than Trotter, because our friend “injury” could be called up at anytime and then you’re on kid. I hope he prepares and is ready for that.
Kiehl (pronounced ‘Kile’) came into the 2011 Auburn Tigers, recruited by Gus Malzahn, with the Tigers coming off their National Championship. But Malzahn was ahead of the curve and had also coached at Shiloh Christian High School in Springfield, Arkansas where Kiehl played. Malzahn had been watching him since.
Frazier was the most recruited football player in Arkansas history and Auburn won out in the end, much to the chagrin of Arkansas fans. The PBS show Frontline produced a feature on him called The Marketing of Kiehl Frazier
At 6’ 3” and 215 pounds, Kiehl Frazer’s style resembles that of Cam Newton, but he is quick to say that he’s not trying to be the next Cam Newton; he just wants to do his own thing.
Frazier actually committed to Auburn as a junior in high school and on one trip to the Plains in the summer of 2010, he played Madden NFL on the Xbox with Cam Newton. Little did anyone know then, what destiny was laid out for Cam, or Kiehl for that matter. His destiny has yet to be seen.
He was a five-star recruit, selected as USA Today's National Offensive Player of the Year, rated as the No. 2 quarterback in the country by ESPN.com, No. 4 quarterback by Scout, No. 5 quarterback by Rivals, No. 4 dual-threat QB by 24/7 Sports and so on and so on.
He passed for 2,975 yards and 42 touchdowns rushing for 1,164 yards and 22 TDs as a senior, and 4,500 yards and 62 TDs as a junior. A lot of Auburn fans saw Kiehl Frazier as the savior who could lead the 2011 team before training camp. That feeling was short-lived.
He came into the camp eager to learn the system, but even Kiehl admitted that he had a lot to learn, although physically he excelled at the position. He just didn’t possess the maturity that Trotter had with the offense.
There was a quality about him as he came into the 2011 training camp that brought humility to bear on the situation. This was clearly a new venture for the freshman. He recognized that this was a new, more sophisticated system than he had ever experienced in the Arkansas’ High School system, but acknowledging that he was willing to be patient and learn.
Now, having picked Trotter to lead the team and Frazier to occupy the third quarterback slot, the option for Gus Malzahn is whether to use him in the Wildcat offense, hold him in case the first two QBs are injured or go ahead and redshirt him, holding him for future teams. Only time will tell as to which direction Malzahn and Gene Chizik decide to take Frazier.
He has the right attitude, obviously the talent and with Kiehl Frazier waiting in the wings, it could be an exciting season to watch, possibly for 2011 but definitely in seasons to come.