Bold prediction: Johnson says Nick Marshall will win the Heisman
Auburn wrapped up fall camp on Sunday and Jeremy Johnson, the Tigers probable starting quarterback for the season-opener against Arkansas, threw down a bold statement.
Starting against an SEC opponent for the first time in his career, Johnson didn’t predict victory over the Razorbacks. He didn’t say that he was going to throw for 300 yards and 5 touchdowns against Arkansas. He didn’t predict an undefeated season or national championship for Auburn either. Johnson is smart enough not to give Arkansas bulletin board material. The sophomore also understands the foolishness of going out on a limb. A head-turning declaration would only be retracted a day later.
While speaking to the media for the first time since camp opened, Johnson boldly predicted greatness on Sunday for the man he is competing against – Nick Marshall.
“He led us to the national championship, and we were 13 seconds away,” Johnson said, according to AL.com “And this year he got better at passing, better at running, better at making reads. He’s become a leader on this team and I’ve never seen him so amped at practice every day the way he is, the way he comes out. So, I know for a fact he’ll win the Heisman.”
Instead of the starting quarterback job being a fight between Marshall and Johnson, the two signal-callers have gone through camp supporting each other. Offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee went so far as to call the relationship between Marshall and Johnson a bromance.
“I have even teased them before (about it),” said Lashlee. “They are just good friends. They get along. They are good in meetings. They are good on the practice field. I have never one time thought one had ulterior motives over the other.”
Lashlee didn’t guarantee a Heisman for Marshall but knows he can challenge for it. One reason is his improved passing ability.
“I don’t think there is any question,” Lashlee said. “He proved in the spring and he is better now then the spring. His footwork is good. He rarely makes errant throws because he is off-balance or because he is not doing the proper footwork. He has really bought in and worked at it himself.”
Head coach Gus Malzahn lobbied for Marshall to be a Heisman finalist last year.
“He should be in the mix, there’s no doubt,” Malzahn said. “He’s one of the better players in college football, and he’s leading our team. We’re a quarterback-oriented offense. If he plays well, we play well. If he doesn’t, we don’t. When you really think about it big-picture, it’s really amazing what he’s done.”
Had the country knew who Nick Marshall was and the Tigers had been ranked in the Top 10 in the preseason last year, Marshall would have easily been a Heisman finalist. Now with high expectations, a Top 6 ranking and the country knowing who he is, Marshall is on everyone’s Heisman radar.