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'Wow factor' in play for Auburn quarterbacks this spring
March 10, 2016

John Franklin III, left, practices with his fellow Auburn quarterbacks
John Franklin III, right, practices with his fellow Auburn quarterbacks

By Charles Goldberg

AUBURN, Ala. ― Gus Malzahn says newcomer John Franklin III has shown the "wow factor" in practice, and his two veteran quarterbacks have raised their level of play as well this spring.

Malzahn had an upbeat report on Franklin, Jeremy Johnson and Sean White after Auburn wrapped up its first phase of spring practice with its fifth workout Thursday. The Tigers will take off the next 11 days for spring break, and figure to return to more intense practices that will include the first scrimmages of the spring.

Malzahn said Franklin, the junior college transfer, has impressed him with his approach. And his athleticism.

"When he takes off running, he's got the 'wow' factor," Malzahn said. "He can really run. He's competing, and it's been good for all the quarterbacks. There's a lot of good competition right now. I will say the other two who played last year, I think they're quite a bit above where they were at the end of the season. Competition has a way of bringing out the best in everyone."

Franklin is the newest entry to the quarterback race, and Malzahn said he "wants to be coached. He's attention to detail. He's real hard on himself.

"He throws the ball well. We're just trying to get his timing down on the base offense, as far the running game, as far as the passing game."

Malzahn also said Johnson and White have "made 'wow' plays" as well.

"The can make plays even when the system breaks down. I've seen it a few times already. I would say they're much improved from where they were last year, but, of course, that's normal for guys who have had experience for a year and they have an offseason and come back."

Malzahn said the spring work has been encouraging for all.

"I'm really pleased with our energy. I'm really pleased with our focus.

"You can really feel the defensive energy. Offensively, they are trying to be physical."

Malzahn said he could see the competition on defense in the older players, who are "setting the tone and just demanding the effort."

Malzahn also said…

• His receivers are being pushed by new coach Kodi Burns.

"Kodi is all over them. He's running as much as they are. They are responding."

• Running back Kerryon Johnson is watching practice as he recovers from January shoulder surgery.

That leaves Jovon Robinson, Roc Thomas, fullbacks and H-backs to get in a lot of spring work. But Robinson and Thomas are the primary backs.

"Both of those guys we have confidence in," he said. "Jovon has been in the offense for one year, and now you can tell he's more confident than he was. We can do some more things with him. Roc has had a good start so far, too, and he has a really good understanding of the offense after being in the system for so long."

• He may take the non-contact jersey off his quarterbacks in a scrimmage.

"We wanted five good foundation days to get our offense, defense right before we go scrimmage-wise. Now that we've got that, our guys should have a good idea of assignments where we can executive things properly, especially to go live with your quarterbacks. If you we do that, it will probably be the first week we come back. Right now, I'm still leaning toward doing that, but have not made a final decision."

Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at Follow him on Twitter:


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