Outside of maybe the state of Mississippi with Shea Patterson and Nick Fitzgerald, all eyes are on the state of Alabama’s quarterbacks. The reigning Offensive Player of the Year Jalen Hurts and Baylor-to-Auburn transfer Jarrett Stidham will be crucial to their team’s success in 2017.
Specifically Stidham, the hype continues to build for the high-profile transfer. He threw for 1,265 yards and 12 touchdowns as a freshman at Baylor, and during Auburn’s spring game, Stidham looked exceptional and showed why he’s worthy of the hype he’s receiving. He’s as smooth of a quarterback as you’ll find — with underrated mobility, and he can make every throw on the field.
Will Stidham become the conference’s biggest impact transfer since Cam Newton? It’ll be fun to see how that question is answered.
The Heisman odds are up, and with the hype for Stidham, the hype for the Tigers continues to rise, too. Let’s face it: when Gus Malzhan has an elite signal caller, his offense is downright dangerous. And that’s what everyone is banking on with Stidham. Elite quarterback play is the great equalizer in college football, and flipping the Iron Bowl in-state power struggle towards Auburn is the type of impact he could have.
Former Alabama QB Greg McElroy knows how talented Stidham is, but he jumped on the SDS Podcast at SEC Media Days to explain why he thinks playing quarterback at Auburn will be a different animal than, say, Baylor.
“It’s not really the Big 12,” McElroy said. “It’s more Baylor … It’s more plug-and-play at quarterback in Art Briles’ system. So, I look at the quarterback position there, and it was made to succeed.
“Auburn it’s a little different animal,” he continued. “Now, it’s a quarterback-friendly offense for sure, and I do think he’ll have a lot of success. It’s just a matter of whether or not he can handle adversity of playing the position. In this league you’re going to get exposed once or twice. It’s not just a game; it’s over a series or a play. And Jeremy Johnson would make a mistake and then he’d make another one. And then trying to overcompensate for the first two, he’d make another one. He was always trying to overcome something catastrophic he did earlier, which led to more catastrophe.
“It’s important to keep things in perspective and have a short memory, because it’s intense playing quarterback in this league, particularly in the state of Alabama, where you are some of the more polarizing people in the state at quarterback.”
It’s easy to parallel Jeremy Johnson and Stidham, because of the preseason hype. Johnson never had the “it factor” but nobody knew it until he became the full-time starter. It was apparent from the get-go it wasn’t there, but Malzahn and Auburn were more or less forced to try and develop him. It just never happened.
So, until Stidham proves he’s not Johnson, the comparisons will continue, but it’s more than just the physical ability. Having the “it factor” is also about mental makeup, too.
You can listen to the full podcast with McElroy here.