Malik Willis had a good showing at Auburn’s spring game prior to the 2019 season.

But, then, coach Gus Malzahn and the Tigers went a different way when it came to the starting quarterback job, prompting Willis to transfer to Liberty, where he ultimately became a star.

In this profile by’s Chase Goodbread, Willis says his attitude about watching film is what (rightfully) led Malzahn to eliminate him from the QB competition:

During a break between Senior Bowl interviews with NFL clubs, Willis acknowledged something he’s having to own up to in those meetings: His attitude toward watching film at Auburn was at the root of his two-year stretch on the bench. He knew the playbook and the responsibilities of his position, but he took no real interest in studying defenses or the intricacies of other positions in the AU offense. It culminated with Malzahn informing him, following spring practice in 2019, that he would not even be considered in the quarterback competition. Malzahn didn’t specifically say Willis’ lack of commitment in the film room was the reason, but …

“He didn’t have to. I knew,” Willis said. “I was so immature. I had just played really well in the spring game, but I learned the hard way that the spring game doesn’t matter. I decided after that meeting that I had to be better, but I needed to find somewhere else to play and find someone to help me get where I needed to go.”

Being able to own up to past mistakes is a sign of maturity, and it seems Willis has grown a lot since his time on The Plains.

Now, we’ll see if he hears his name called in Round 1 of the 2022 NFL Draft in April. He has a chance to be the first quarterback off the board this year.