Auburn, Ala.--A recruiting process that started three years ago came to an end on Wednesday when five-star quarterback Jarrett Stidham signed with the Auburn Tigers following a year at a junior college. Starting his career at Baylor where he played as a true freshman before an injury cut his season short, Stidham sat out of football this season and plans to be in Auburn on Jan. 20 to take part in bowl practices with the Tigers.
A dynamic player that should challenge Sean White for the starting job immediately when he gets on campus, the 6-3 Stidham has all the tools to be successful in Auburn’s offense and Gus Malzahn said he’ll have the opportunity to do just that.
"We started recruiting him from way back when,” Malzahn said of the Stephenville, Tex. native. “We thought he was the top quarterback in the country when he came out and chose to go to another school. For us to have a guy like him, we think he's an outstanding player and outstanding person with great leadership so we feel he'll be a great addition to our team.”
A coach that Malzahn has been friends with since getting into the business, Briles had a big impact on Stidham during his time at Baylor. Leaving the university when Briles was removed, Stidham winding up at Auburn is something Malzahn said is likely at least partially due to his bond with the coach.
He’s from Stephenville, Texas, and we recruited him coming out, but we kind of knew that it was going to be real tough for him to get out of the state of Texas at the time. The fact that I’ve known Art for a long time, too, I’m sure didn’t hurt the matter. But we’re glad to have him. He’s got three years left. I think that’s good, too. He’ll come in and compete for the job.”
Taking over for Seth Russell and making three starts before a broken ankle ended his true freshman season, Stidham put up some impressive numbers for the Bears, completing 68.8 percent of his passes (75-109) for 1,265 yards and 12 touchdowns with just two interceptions.
Also capable of making plays running the football, Stidham’s physical tools are what stand out said Malzahn.
His skill set is that he’s a very talented young man. He can make all the throws, he can run, he can extend plays. He’s very accurate. He’s got good leadership. He’s a mature young man.
“He throws a very good deep ball, just his trajectory, his arm strength, his accuracy. He does a good job buying himself time. He's got everything it takes to be a very good quarterback. The deep ball is definitely a part of his arsenal.
“He's a dual-threat guy. He can throw the ball. He can run when he has to. He can extend plays. I think that's a big thing in our league. A lot of times things are going to break down, and a guy who can extend plays and make good decisions is a positive.”
Even though Stidham won’t compete for the starting job until the Tigers hit the field for spring practice he’ll get a chance to start that process later this week when he suits up for bowl practices on campus. Taking part on just a handful of days with Auburn before they break for Christmas, Stidham’s involvement and what they ask of him is still yet to be determined said Malzahn.
“We haven’t got that far yet. I just know he wants to be out there with his teammates and be out there and do individual and stuff like that. We’ll get a plan as it gets closer, but I was pretty encouraged that he wanted to get out there in the middle of it and participate. I think that’s a really good sign. As it gets closer, we’ll figure out what to do.”