Auburn, Ala.--After spending two seasons as Nick Marshall’s understudy the opportunity is here for Jeremy Johnson to show he is ready to take control as Auburn’s starting quarterback and leader of the offense.
Johnson, a six-foot-five, 230-pound junior, will get that chance beginning on Tuesday when Gus Malzahn’s Tigers open spring football practice. Auburn’s head coach, who has had high praise for the former Carver of Montgomery High star since he joined the team in the summer of 2013, says that Johnson will begin spring practice at the top of the depth chart.
However, Malzahn adds that all positions are open for competition this spring, even with Johnson, whose teammates have predicted a big season on the horizon for the junior.
Also competing for playing time at quarterback this spring will be Sean White, juco transfer Jason Smith and Tyler Queen, a December graduate from North Cobb High in Kennesaw, Ga., who began classes at Auburn in January.
Johnson opened the 2014 season as the starter vs. Arkansas when Marshall was suspended for the first half of that game. Johnson performed very well vs. the Razorbacks, hitting 12-16 passes for 243 yards and two touchdowns before Marshall took over in the third quarter.
As a sophomore Johnson completed 28-37 passes for 436 yards and three touchdowns and did not throw an interception. In his two seasons with the Tigers he has completed 57-78 passes for 858 yards with nine scores and two interceptions. He has 11 carries for 40 yards and one touchdown.
Sean White is shown at practice during the 2014 season.
Auburn’s other returning scholarship quarterback is redshirt freshman Sean White, a 6-2, 200-pounder, who is a former Under Armour All-American known as an accurate passer. Malzahn and QB coach/offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee have said on several occasions they liked what they saw from White last fall.
The last two seasons the Tigers have had success running the football from the quarterback spot. The best runner among the 2015 bunch is Jason Smith, who joined the team in January after playing last fall at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College.
Smith signed with the Tigers as a high school senior at McGill-Toolen High in Mobile. However, he did not qualify academically. He redshirted during the 2013 season to concentrate on his academics, something that helped him graduate early and arrive at AU in time for spring training this year with three seasons of eligibility.
Smith is shown in action during the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game at Cramton Bowl in Montgomery.
Last season, playing for a 10-2 team, the 6-1, 185 pounder with excellent speed rushed for 424 yards and 10 touchdowns while throwing for 18 scores and 1,566 yards. He was intercepted just two times.
Smith was promised a shot at quarterback, but if that doesn’t work out he has the potential to help the team as a wide receiver. As a high school senior he was the MVP for the winning team in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game while playing wide receiver when Johnson was the starting quarterback.
Queen is also a dual threat quarterback. He rushed for 43 touchdowns and passed for 89 scores as a four-year starter in high school. The 6-2, 230-pounder threw for 2,342 yards as a senior and set a Cobb County record by passing for more than 8,500 yards. His TD passes total was also a county record.
Tyler Queen bounced back from a shoulder injury to have a strong senior season.
The Tigers will play their annual A-Day game on Saturday, April 18th at Jordan-Hare Stadium.