Auburn fans approached A-Da7 2017 with hopes that they would see Jarrett Stidham prove why everyone was so excited about him long before he signed with the Tigers and since he arrived on campus.
A few short hours in the Alabama sun later and, yep, we're excited. Thrilled. Expectations are about to go through the roof for Auburn if these wide receivers catch the ball consistently.
Because Jarrett Stidham is the Real Fuckin' Deal.
Pardon my language, but that's the best way I can think to put it. There's zero doubt he's the starter next season. I love Sean White's grit and competitiveness, but Stidham was making throws that I haven't seen an Auburn QB make in years.
Let's start with this one. This was perfectly placed:
Jarrett Stidham with a beautiful 34-yard pass to Nate Craig-Myers. https://t.co/0IevrJLIjJ— Brandon Marcello (@bmarcello) April 8, 2017
That's one of many. He was 16-20 for 267 yards in the first half. He also had 17 yards rushing, which would have been more like 50-60 yards rushing if the referees weren't blowing the whistle if a defender was within 10 yards.
Yes, I realize this is A-Day. I know that you shouldn't draw conclusions based on A-Day. There are some things you can see, though. It's the touch on the deep ball. It's placing the football exactly where it needs to be for the receivers to haul it in. It's fitting the ball into windows a foot or two wide. It's the sideline pass that is either going to be incomplete or caught by your guy.
Many of those are things I would trust Sean White to do, too. Those deep balls, though... I mentioned that they were one thing I really wanted to see. We saw them. He was fantastic. Those are passes that we just didn't see Sean White make last season. Can he? I don't know. The sample size sure doesn't seem to indicate that he can.
Stidham has every tool you could possibly want in a quarterback. It will be an absolute shock if he's not the starter come September.
So, who is the back-up? Well, it's probably going to be Sean White. Sean has the experience, the leadership, and enough tools to take the Tigers places they need and want to go. When he was healthy last season, Auburn was rolling. I have every confidence that a healthy Sean White can do what we need if it comes to needing him in the game.
Don't discount Malik Willis, though. The young early enrollee true freshman is likely headed for a redshirt season, but there could also be a chance Auburn decides to develop some packages for him. If he continues as he has been going, it's not inconceivable that he passes Sean White as the #2 QB this fall.
He was mostly making very good decisions. He was handling pressure in the pocket (as much as they allowed in this one) and moving around and then throwing some great passes. He needs seasoning, but I can definitely see why he's gotten a lot of hype this spring. Willis got a lot more reps than Woody Barrett - including some with the 1's. He's looking very good for a kid who has only played football for a year in high school and now this Spring at Auburn.
As for Woody Barrett... I don't know. It's way too early to make a determination on him. He hasn't even had a full year with this team and now is working with a new quarterback coach. Right now, though, I'd put Malik Willis ahead of Barrett. He'll have every chance to get better - and he definitely has the body and the physical tools to get better - but right now he's the #4 guy in this race, to me.