Ranking every Auburn starting quarterback in the 21st century, Cam to No. 15
Time has a weird way of matriculating these days.
Can you believe it’s already 2 decades into the 21st century? On the other hand, can you believe it’s only September after everything we’ve gone through in 2020?
How about this — it’s been a decade since Cam Newton won the Heisman Trophy and led Auburn to the national championship.
So to pass the time, we thought it’d be informative — perhaps even slightly entertaining — to take a look at every Auburn quarterback to play a significant role this century.
To make the list, a QB had to attempt 100 or more passes. So, here we go …
15. Kodi Burns, 2007-10
It says a lot that Burns’ most famous pass, a touchdown to Cam Newton came as a Wildcat quarterback after Burns had moved to wideout. In 23 games under center, Burns completed just 49.3 of his throws and finished with more interceptions (10) than touchdowns (7). He fared better as a receiver and now coaches that position at Auburn.
14. Daniel Cobb, 2000-02
Cobb might be most known for making it tough for Jason Campbell to come in and take the reins right away. In 3 seasons, Cobb made 18 appearances and threw for 2,350 yards.
13. Clint Moseley, 2010-12
Moseley’s career numbers aren’t that bad — 125.9 passer rating, 62.3% completion rate. After a promising sophomore season in 2011, he yielded the starting job to Kiehl Frazier and later Jonathan Wallace, who eventually moved to receiver. Moseley left the program following that season and finished his degree at Auburn.
12. Kiehl Frazier, 2011-13
The man who once beat out Moseley for Auburn’s starting job was moved to safety his junior season, then finished out his career at Ouachita Baptist University. He played 9 games under center in 2012, when the Tigers went 3-9 and 0-8 in SEC play — their worst season in 60 years.
11. Barrett Trotter, 2010-11
It’s not easy taking over for a legend. Trotter did so for Newton in 2011, completing 55% of his passes and accumulating 1,184 yards. He’s an offensive analyst for Auburn coach Gus Malzahn today.
T10. Sean White, 2015-16
What might have been? After taking over for Johnson early in the 2015 campaign, White completed 64% of his passes in 2016. But he then lost the starting role to Jarrett Stidham and was later dismissed from the team following a public intoxication arrest.
T10. Jeremy Johnson, 2013-16
Johnson got stuck in the middle during his career on The Plains. He started as Nick Marshall’s backup and was heralded as a reliable replacement in 2015. By Game 3, he was benched in favor of Sean White. Johnson was a 63% passer, though, and his TD/INT ratio of 20-11 was better than average. High expectations, most notably the Heisman hype, got the better of him.
8. Ben Leard, 2000
Leard had a stalwart senior season at the turn of the century: 60.5% completion, 2,158 yards, 12 touchdowns. That Auburn team went 9-4 and reached the SEC title game.
His Auburn career started in 1997. Overall, he finished with 4,289 career yards, still good for 10th in program history. His 28 career TD passes also are 10th all-time.
7. Bo Nix, 2019
If Nix fulfills his potential, he’ll end his career much higher on this list. Nix’s freshman year numbers — 125 rating, 57.6% completion rate, 2,542 yards, 16 touchdowns — have him poised for a strong showing the next couple of seasons. He needs 13 TDs to move past Leard and into the top 10 on Auburn’s career list. Looking farther ahead, the program record could be within reach in 2021. Pat Sullivan set it with 53.
6. Chris Todd, 2008-09
After transferring from Texas Tech, Todd set school records for touchdown passes in a season (22) and the longest pass during his senior season in 2009. (Newton broke his TD record the next season.) The Tigers went 8-5 with an Outback Bowl win over Northwestern that season.
5. Brandon Cox, 2004-07
As the starter from 2005-07, Cox led the Tigers to a 29-9 mark. He was part of a 2007 senior class that won a school-record 50 games. He ranks 3rd in program history with 6.959 yards and 42 TD passes. That’s not even his best version of the number 3.
The lefty went 3-0 against rival Alabama.
“That’s something that can’t be taken away from me,” Cox said in a 2015 interview with Auburn sports. “That’s something I can cherish and I look forward to one day telling my grandkids. I remember walking on the field (in 2007) and that’s the most nervous and most pressure I’ve ever felt in my life. Just getting that game over with, with a victory and being able to hold up 6 fingers after the game was over — the fact that I never lost to Alabama and leaving Auburn with that fact was the biggest relief.”
4. Jarrett Stidham, 2017-18
From McLennan Community College to taking over for Tom Brady (well, until Cam Newton arrived, anyway). It’s been a winding road for Stidham, who transferred from Baylor to McLennan (he didn’t play football there) to Auburn, where he led the Tigers to the 2017 SEC Championship Game. Stidham finished his career with 5,952 passing yards (6th all-time), 36 touchdowns (6th all-time) and a 144.4 passer rating.
3. Nick Marshall, 2013-14
Who doesn’t miss Marshall darting around SEC gridirons and completing seemingly impossible passes? Well, probably Georgia and Alabama fans, for one. From the Prayer at Jordan-Hare to the 2013 BCS National Championship Game against FSU — remember when the BCS was a thing? — Marshall cemented himself as a War Eagle legend in his 2 seasons as Auburn’s starter. Yes, Chris Davis is the hero because of Kick-6, but Marshall’s 39-yard TD pass to Sammie Coates tied the Iron Bowl with 32 seconds left. Marshall is 7th all-time with 34 career TD passes and 9th with 4,508 yards.
2. Jason Campbell, 2001-04
One of the most decorated players in Auburn history, Campbell was in many ways the face of the Tigers’ undefeated 2004 season that somehow — well, we know how — didn’t end in a national championship game appearance. Campbell’s career numbers from 4 seasons: 64.6% rate, 7,299 yards (2nd in program history), 45 touchdowns (also 2nd) and a 148.2 passer rating. He also earned SEC Offensive Player of the Year honors in 2004.
1. Cam Newton, 2010
The argument between Campbell’s body of work and Newton’s one magical season is interesting, but it’s ultimately tough to top a national championship and Heisman winner. Newton authored the “Camback” against Alabama, accounting for all 4 TDs as Auburn overcame a 24-point deficit. He set Auburn’s single-season record with 30 TD passes, which still stands. He also broke Bo Jackson’s school record with 20 rushing TDs. (Tre Mason broke that mark with 23 in 2013.) One way to frame the discussion: Which QB would you want to build your team around? We’re saying Newton.