This is the beginning in a series of articles leading up to Auburn's spring practice session. This article focuses on the quarterback position.
It is often said there is no "I" in team, but in football there is one position that can make or break a team. The quarterback is seen as the leader, the head honcho, the main event and all of those overused cliches.
For the Tigers, who were an "afterthought" in 2008, turned things around in 2009. QB Chris Todd was a big reason for this, as he passed for 2,377 yards, completed 60.4 percent of his passes, threw 22 touchdowns and only six interceptions. He now holds the record for most touchdown passes in a single season, previously held by Jason Campbell and Pat Sullivan.
Most people thought Todd wouldn't be able to throw again after the 2008 season.
With Todd moving on, Auburn has five quarterbacks on the roster to compete for the starting quarterback position. Here they are listed in no particular order:
Neil Caudle, Senior
Caudle was Todd's backup last season. He only played in four games, went 15 for 20 with a touchdown and an interception. He has stuck around for the long haul, waiting to see when his opportunity would arise.
Caudle was probably the favorite going into next season before the arrival of Cameron Newton. He possibly could be if Newton doesn't pan out during the spring.
Caudle has some issues, like arm strength and accuracy, but can drive the team down the field when needed.
Tyrik Rollison, Redshirt Freshman
Rollison was redshirted last season to save his eligibility for the coming years. The former Sulphur Springs High School quarterback was considered to be a main contender for the starting role, but a suspension before the Outback Bowl has knocked his starting aspirations down a notch.
There is still much to be questioned about his maturity and leadership, but he has the time to right himself.
Cameron Newton, JUCO Transfer from Blinn Community College
Newton was the big splash this past recruiting class. He definitely has the stats to back up the hype surrounding him. At Blinn Community College, he threw for 2,833 yards, completed 60.7 percent of his passes, threw for 22 touchdowns and just five interceptions. Newton also ran for 655 yards on 108 attempts, netting a 6.1 yards per carry average.
Newton faced some personal issues after an incident while at the University of Florida. He was facing criminal charges, but those have been dropped.
All signs point to Newton as the favorite to win the starting job. If all goes well and no other outside issues pop-up, look for Newton to be the main guy out of spring practice.
Barrett Trotter, Sophomore
Trotter is returning from an ACL injury he suffered last year. Trotter is another highly touted quarterback from Birmingham, Alabama.
Personally, I thought Trotter would have challenged Caudle for the back up position last season, but the ACL tear ended those hopes. Before Newton's signing, some on the Plains, including myself, believed he could have been a sleeper candidate for the starting job in 2010.
With Trotter's injury, the coaching staff will be taking it a bit easy this coming season. They may need Trotter down the road.
Clint Moseley, Redshirt Freshman
Moseley, like Rollison, redshirted last season. The Leroy, Alabama native led his high school to the 2A state championship as a sophomore.
Moseley has the skills to be a capable quarterback, but like Rollison and Trotter, will more than likely have to wait his turn to audition for the starting position.
In reality, Auburn has very capable athletes, especially in the hands of offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn. Again, Newton is the favorite heading into the spring, but we will have to see what transpires.
No matter who takes the snaps, Auburn's offensive line will be an experienced bunch.
Next time, the offensive line will go under the microscope in this Auburn spring preview.