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Further Thoughts on Jarrett Stidham's Commitment and the QB Situation

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Sunday morning thoughts on next year's quarterbacks.

Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports

Last night, the Tigers got an early Christmas Present with the commitment of former Baylor QB Jarrett Stidham. #AuburnTwitter exploded with exaltation at what many presume will be the savior of Auburn's offense.

As plenty of other Auburn writers have noted, that's quite a heavy burden to place on a young QB who only has three college starts under his belt. There's plenty of reason to believe he's going to be every bit as good as advertised. Cole Cubelic was sharing some Vines of great plays he made last year on Twitter last night. They should be quite exciting for Auburn fans to view. Bear with me because there are a lot of them.

That one resembled the play Auburn scored on with Jalen Harris against Ole Miss.

Reasons to be excited? Absolutely.

The job isn't automatically going to go to Stidham, though. Don't get me wrong, I'm pretty confident that he'll win the job. He's reportedly going to get some time with the team during bowl practice (probably as a scout QB representing Mayfield), but that's still extra time to get into the playbook and work with the coaches.

One thing we've learned over the last year and a half is that Sean White is a competitor. He lays it out for plays, he stands in the pocket and takes hits, and he's not afraid to do everything he needs to for the betterment of the team. There's a chance that this lights a fire under him and he works even harder to improve.

Stidham will probably win the job, but it's not going to be given to him and he's going to have to work damn hard against a player whose teammates love him and who has shown he's not afraid to back down from any fight.

Then there's Woody Barrett. Can he win the starting job as a redshirt freshman? I doubt it, as there have been discouraging reports about how he's behind the curve in learning the offense. Then again, it's a rare talent that can step in and take over a SEC team as a redshirt freshman. John Franklin III? I'd be shocked if he stays on the team. If he does, he'll probably have to change positions. There's also Tyler Queen, who could throw his hat in the ring as quality depth at the position if he can ever stay consistently healthy.

That's something people seem to have forgotten when they consider the development of Sean White over the last two years. As much hell as Rhett Lashlee gets, White went from his 2015 performance to being one of the most efficient QBs in the conference. That's a promising trajectory. He did great things with Nick Marshall, too. Sure, JJ's development was a failure, but we don't know if that's the coaching or JJ. Time will tell. We'll see how things go with Barrett this spring and next year. I think we could have a very detailed discussion on this staff's failure to evaluate QB recruits out of high school, but that's a talk for another day.

The best thing that can be said right now is that it looks like for the first time in a very long time, Auburn is going to have quality depth at almost every position on the team. They'll finally have it at the most important position on the team, too. That's what made Stidham's commitment so important to Gus Malzahn and his future at Auburn. They banked everything on Jeremy Johnson being a 3-year starter. He didn't turn out that way, and the team could never get over the hump because of it. The truly sad thing is that the 2016 Auburn team really could have been something special if there had been consistent play at the QB position even with the injuries.

The future is brighter for the Tigers today than it was this time yesterday. Especially with Kamryn Pettway announcing his intention to return for the 2017 season. An offense that consists of a line that may be even better than last year's with Stidham under center, Pettway and Johnson in the backfield, Cox blocking, and a combination of Kyle Davis, Darius Slayton, Nate Craig-Myers, Eli Stove, Marquis McClain, and others catching passes should be enough to frighten the rest of the SEC. Especially if they let Rhett have full control over calling plays as he did during the winning streak with White at QB.

War Eagle, everyone.