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Quarterbacks ready to take stage at Auburn's A-Day Game
April 7, 2016

Auburn's John Franklin III warms up Thursday for Saturday's A-Day Game in Jordan-Hare Stadium
Auburn's John Franklin III warms up Thursday for Saturday's A-Day Game in Jordan-Hare Stadium

By Charles Goldberg

AUBURN, Ala. ― Sean White is healthy, Jeremy Johnson's confidence is good and John Franklin III has made a favorable first impression.

Auburn offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee says he has liked the look of his quarterbacks this spring, but a bigger mini-test will come in Saturday's A-Day Game at 3 p.m. in Jordan-Hare Stadium.

'They've all three done some good things. I'm pleased at where they're at,' Lashlee said.

The quarterbacks will wear non-contact jerseys Saturday, though they've been live in previous scrimmages. The fourth scholarship quarterback won't play. Tyler Queen suffered a shoulder injury in last Saturday's scrimmage and is wearing a brace. That leaves White, Johnson and Franklin.

'They all bring something different to the table,' Lashlee said. 'Sean, obviously, brings his toughness and his grit. He's a guy that sees the field and makes good decisions. He's a guy who is going to know where to go with the football. I know his teammates believe in him from that standpoint. He's proven that in games.

'Jeremy, obviously, has a wealth of experience dating back to his freshman year. I've been really pleased with his progress this spring and the way he's improved and stayed the course.'

Johnson turned in one of his better games in Auburn's win over Memphis at the Birmingham Bowl.

'I think that has helped his confidence,' Lashlee said. 'I've been impressed with the way he's handled everything. To come back and earn his teammates trust has been really impressive.'

Franklin arrived in January.

'You bring in a guy that is new in our system and things are happening fast. The thing that's been impressive he's been able to do is pick everything up. He doesn't have a lot of mental mistakes. He's been able to pick everything up. He's been able to go at the pace that Sean and Jeremy have gone at and made some really good strides, in just feeling what to do now.

'He's done everything right, but he's still not quite to where he's just reacting. He's still thinking a little bit, but that's normal. He's just got to make sure he can protect the football at this point, and that's probably the No. 1 thing for him.'

Lashlee said he and coach Gus Malzahn haven't discussed when they will name a starting quarterback.

'We've just been pushing through the spring,' Lashlee said. 'We have an idea, but again, all three of those guys have had a good spring camp. Until we do it in a game, it doesn't mean a whole lot other than we feel good about the progress we're making.'

White and Johnson shared the starting duties last season. Franklin, the junior college transfer, is the wild card.

'The ball comes out of John's hands well. He's got a strong arm. He can spiral the ball, snap it off pretty good,' Lashlee said. 'There's been a couple things naturally that he's worked on that I think that has improved a lot from Day 1 until now. The deep ball wasn't his strength. He can really drive the ball, make all the throws — he can make every throw on the field, but the deep ball wasn't as natural to him, and we kind of knew that when we recruited him.

'I think the expectations need to be tempered on him a little bit. It's a guy who was half and half with another guy at a junior college, and that's not because he wasn't good. The other guy was good, but that's the way they chose to do it, so he's got a lot of ball he needs to play at that position just from an instinctive standpoint to continue to improve, but like I said, his attitude has been phenomenal, as good a work ethic as you can find. I think he's got a chance.'
A fair chance.

'You don't bring in a junior college guy in and not expect him to play. I can't tell you what exactly he's going to do at this point because he's still in competition to be the starter. He is a guy that has shown he can handle things. He's has some impact player ability so I would expect us find a way for him to help us regardless."

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


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