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Auburn's Jason Smith in the mix... for most everything
March 17, 2015

Jason Smith catches a punt under the watchful eye of Auburn assistant coach Tim Horton in Tuesday's practice

By Charles Goldberg

AUBURN, Ala.-- Newcomer Jason Smith is still working at quarterback, but the versatile athlete also returned punts and wore the blue jersey of a wide receiver at practice Tuesday because heis too valuable to be left behind.
"He's the type that we definitely need him on the field," said Auburn coach Gus Malzahn after practice. "He's got a lot of skills."

Smith was known as a big-time quarterback at McGill-Toolen High School in Mobile, won MVP honors in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game at wide receiver, and then put up big numbers at quarterback at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College.

Malzahn promised him a shot at quarterback at Auburn, and that's where he's spent most of the time through the first four practices. He's competing against the experienced Jeremy Johnson there, as well as redshirt freshman Sean White and true freshman Tyler Queen.

"What we said is it would be all quarterback as long as he wants to compete for the job," Malzahn said. "He still wants to, but at the same time, he wanted to try some receiver so we're going to do a little bit of both the rest of the spring."

Johnson and White, in practice quarterback orange, are sharing the first-team snaps.

"Jeremy, this is his third go-around, third year with us so the expectations for him are really high," Malzahn said. "Sean is a guy that's been with us for a year that has a lot of ability. Right now, they're pushing each other and it's good."


• Auburn's second and final practice of the week is Thursday. Malzahn said it won't be a normal end-of-the-week scrimmage.

"But we will do some tackling," he said. "We'll make sure when we come back on our Saturdays they'll be all-out scrimmages. But we need to practice.

"Coach (Will) Muschamp is still installing the defense. We're trying to be very patient offensively with our install so we make sure to give these young guys a fair chance. We're rotating everybody now and we're going to continue to do that. Once we have our installs in and our young guys have a good foundation, then we'll let them scrimmage in a big-type scrimmage as far as the stadium goes."

• Auburn was in full pads Tuesday, and Malzahn said the Tigers had a physical practice.

"The offense went against defense a lot," Malzahn said. "Really, we were just trying to strain our guys. Really trying to develop that trust -- that trust that coaches can trust the players and players can trust the guy beside them. We're trying to strain them, trying to really come together."

Coming together is part of this spring story, especially after last season.

"We weren't happy the way we finished," Malzahn said. "The first year we were here we finished extremely strong. We didn't do that last year, so we're going to make sure we really focus this spring on being very physical and being able to trust the guy beside us."

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



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