Auburn, Ala. - National Signing Day 2016 is done and in the books for the Auburn Tigers. Head Coach Gus Malzahn and his staff brought in 21 new players from the high school and Juco ranks. Two out of those 21, John Franklin and Woody Barrett, are coming to Auburn to try and become the new starting quarterback for the Tigers.
Wednesday afternoon, Malzahn spoke about his new signees and had plenty to talk about concerning the prospective quarterbacks and what they will bring to the table for the Tigers on offense.
“John Franklin III has got great speed,” said Malzahn. “We think he throws the ball well. He’s familiar with our offense so we’re definitely excited about what he can do. Woody Barrett, I started recruiting Woody right when I go the head (coaching) job here. Coach (Rhett) Lashlee did a great job with him. We hand-picked him. He is a true dual threat quarterback. He can run it. He can throw it. He’s got that leadership ability, and we really appreciate his loyalty, too. A lot of big schools came after him, and he hung in there and was very loyal to us and really helped keep this class, especially offensively, together.”
Franklin III comes to Auburn by way of East Mississippi Community College where he split time at quarterback. At EMCC Franklin III put together a solid stat line in limited time on the field throwing for 733 yards, seven touchdowns and two interceptions while rushing for 451 yards and nine touchdowns. A dynamic athlete at 6-2, 185, his play style most closely resembles former Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall as he was Florida State’s scout team quarterback when they were preparing for the 2014 BCS National Championship Game vs. Auburn. A heavy dosage of the read option could be the cure for the Tigers’ recent offensive ailment should Franklin III win the starting job.
Barrett comes from Winter Garden, Fla. where he played high school ball at West Orange High and put up strong senior season numbers with 2,018 yards passing and 20 passing touchdowns to go along with 1,413 yards on the ground and 23 touchdowns. The 6-3, 220 newcomer can make plays on his feet and also has a little bit of a gunslinger mentality. However, he’ll be the youngest quarterback on the roster this fall so he’ll have to really impress quickly in the fall to have any shot at starting. According to Malzahn the job at quarterback is open and all five scholarship QBs on the roster are expected to have a fair shot to win the spot.
“Our quarterback position is wide open,” Malzahn expressed. “(John Franklin III) came in here wanting a chance to win the job. Woody Barrett will have a chance, too. We’re going to see who the best guy is, and we’ll go from there.”
Malzahn believes that no matter who wins the starting job, he expects the team to rally behind that player and for them to strive for success together.
“The thing about our team is that they are very welcoming,” said Malzahn. The guys that come in just embrace them. As far as our quarterbacks are concerned I’m really looking forward to Spring to let those guys compete. There are a lot of good options out there and competition brings out the best in everybody. I think all those guys are ready to roll their sleeves up and get ready to work.”
Malzahn said he would name a starter whenever it becomes apparent who the man for the job is and when that will happen, well, only time will tell.
“In the spring we’ll let these guys play and I think it’ll give us some good information before we get to fall camp."