Click here to watch highlights of Tyler Queen vs. Marietta.
Kennesaw, Ga. – Tyler Queen was the first verbal commitment for the class of 2015 for Auburn, and he has remained the only junior commitment for the Tigers going on four months. Auburn was able to extend the offer before Queen even played a down of his junior season.
Hours and hours of film goes into making an offer, but it's obvious watching Queen that he possesses the technique and the smarts at the quarterback position well beyond his years.
"I've been playing since I was four," Queen explained. "I've been around football all of my life. My dad (North Cobb head coach Shane Queen) was a head coach even before I was born. I'm always up at a sports field--football field, baseball, basketball gym. I've always had a ball in my hand doing some sort of sport.
"I'm just looking forward to the opportunity to play Division I football," Queen continued. "Even going into ninth grade I didn't know if I was capable of that, but I've had to work hard and my coaches believed in me and have given me all of the training I can. They've helped me with speed and agility work every day in the off season, doing quarterback drills, and it's really paid off for me."
Aside from guidance from his father, who is his head coach at North Cobb, Queen has been tutored by his offensive coordinator and quarterback coach Tom Clark, who has ties to the Auburn area.
"I've been a quarterback all the way through," Queen said. "I've been working with my quarterback coach every day in the offseason, and that's what has helped me.
"His family is actually from Auburn," Queen added of Clark. "His family actually owes Hamilton's and all of that. That's where he is originally from so he was very happy to see me go there.
"He's always finding new stuff for me to work on," the quarterback said. "He's always critiquing me. Even if I throw a touchdown he's finding something that I need to work on. I just appreciate in what he does in that aspect to help me be the best player that I can be."
"They just made a priority to build a good relationship with me, and I really liked that about the coaching staff," Queen said. "That's one of the number one things I was looking at when I was picking a school. That's why I chose Auburn.
"They're very humble and Godly men," Queen added of the staff. "That's what my dad said. We went and spoke at a breakfast for little kids and their dads. They were talking about role models. My dad was talking about how good of role models Coach Malzahn and Coach Lashlee were. My dad loves those guys and feels safe turning me over to them next year."
Queen made the commitment to Auburn on July 10, 2013, nearly 19 months before signing day. However, he said he knew at the time that Malzahn and the new staff would get the program back on track after it had dropped off the last few years before hitting rock bottom in 2012.
"I saw the work ethic that the coaches were putting in," Queen stated. "They were putting the 3-9 season in the past. They understood that it's a new year. The new coaching staff started fresh. They went to work with a new mentality that I liked down there."
Queen isn't going to shy away from quarterback competition at Auburn.
Obviously, only one quarterback can play at a time, but Auburn has found a role for true freshman Jeremy Johnson to get snaps this season. Starter Nick Marshall has been banged up, but even when healthy Johnson has been getting snaps here and there, something encouraging for a quarterback who will suit up for the Tigers in 2015.
"I like to see those guys compete because hopefully I can be in those shoes one day competing for the starting job one day," Queen said. "I'm looking forward to seeing how that plays out."
Aside from signing Johnson last February, Auburn has a commitment for this year's class from Sean White from University School of Nova South in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. All three quarterbacks are spaced by just a year.
"As you can see, they don't care what age you are," Queen said of quarterback competition. "If you're the best, you'll play. I just know that I've got to go in and work. Not saying I'm the best at all, but I've just got to go in and work and know that they'll give me a chance if I'm ready and good enough to play there."
At 6-2 and between 230-235 pounds, Queen knows he's not going to run the ball like Cameron Newton did at Auburn. (On a side note, North Cobb won its division of the Cam Newton Invitational 7on7 Invitational over the summer). And Queen knows he doesn't have the speed of Marshall. However, the zone read is part of the offense at North Cobb and Queen deserves respect from opposing teams when he keeps it.
"I feel comfortable," he said. "Obviously, I'm not the fastest guy, but I'm smart with the football and I make good reads for the most part. I just feel like I can do both. I can move well for my weight, so that helps me too."
Queen and the North Cobb Warriors finish the regular season on Friday at Campbell, heading into the game with a 7-2. The Warriors dropped a tough defeat last Friday to cross-town rival Marietta, which could have clinched the No. 1 seed in Region 4-AAAAAA.
The Warriors were ahead 14-0, but Marietta fought back and did something not often seen in high school football. The Blue Devils relied on the leg of their kicker Ian Shannon to win the game. Shannon hit a 46-yard field goal to end the first half.
After Queen threw an 18-yard touchdown score late in the game to tie the score at 21-21, Marietta milked the clock with the run game and settled for a 49-yard field goal with two seconds remaining. Shannon's kick would have been good from more than 60 yards.
"We executed our game plan early and fell off there toward the end," Queen said after the loss. "We were making stupid penalties and stuff. We've just got to try to figure out what we did wrong when we get into the film on Monday and not make those penalties that kill drive.
"We've just got to come back ready to work on Monday," Queen added. "We still have all of our goals that we can achieve so we've got to come back and work. You've just got to understand that this is in the past and remember the taste that we have in our mouth right now. We don't want that next Friday coming into the playoffs."