March 24, 2013
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN – Coach Gus Malzahn and offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee weren't around to watch Auburn quarterbacks Kiehl Frazier and Jonathan Wallace last season, but they've hardly needed introductions since returning to the Tigers.
Malzahn was Frazier's offensive coordinator at Auburn in 2011; and Malzahn and Lashlee recruited Wallace as well.
The four of them will be part of a new Auburn spring practice that begins Wednesday morning.
"You've got two guys that both Coach Malzahn and I are familiar with," Lashlee said. "They ran similar systems in high school. Those two guys will get a lot of reps in the spring, which is positive. I hope at end of the spring we'll say, 'Wow, it's a neck-and-neck race because they've both been really good.'
"We do have some guys coming in during the summer and they'll have a chance to compete. We're going to play the best guy, I don't care if he's freshman, sophomore, junior, senior, whatever. But there's no doubt Kiehl and Jonathan will have an advantage because of spring practices."
Frazier and Wallace will be the only two quarterbacks on scholarship this spring before the summer arrivals of signees Jonathan Johnson from Carver High in Montgomery; junior college transfer Nick Marshall from Garden City Community College in Kansas; and Jason Smith from Mobile's McGill-Toolen, who was last seen winning MVP honors as a wide receiver in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game.
The race is open.
"When I was here before we didn't have a starter named at the end of spring either time. I don't have a timetable this time, either. I just want those guys to compete," Lashlee said.
"I do feel good that we have good kids, good athletes, that have played in this offense, either in high school or junior college, and this similar-style system. There is some familiarity in what we do."
Frazier, then the Wildcat quarterback, saw limited duty for Malzahn in 2011. Last season, Frazier hit a team-high 62 of 115 passes with two TDs and eight interceptions. Wallace, then a true freshman, started the final four games and hit 46 of 80 passes with four touchdown passes. Wallace set the school record for the highest passing efficiency by a freshman, at 139.6, topping the marks of Jason Campbell and Stan White.