By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. -- Auburn began Sugar Bowl practice Wednesday with an upbeat injury report on quarterback Sean White and running back Kamryn Pettway -- and laid out the welcome mat for two junior college students who could impact the offense next season.
Quarterback Gus Malzahn welcomed former Baylor quarterback Jarrett Stidham and tight end Sal Cannella to the team after they signed Wednesday, and said Stidham will practice for a few days before the Tigers head to New Orleans. He's not eligible to play in the game, but Auburn coaches can give him the once over before spring practice.
"We started recruiting him from way back when," Malzahn said. "We thought he was the top quarterback in the country when he came out and chose to go to another school. We think he's an outstanding player and outstanding person with great leadership, so we feel he'll be a great addition to our team. He'll be here from the 19th and 20th and he wants to start practice early, which I think is a good thing."
Malzahn's scouting report went like this: "He throws a very good deep ball -- just his trajectory, his arm strength, his accuracy. He does a good job buying himself time. He's got everything it takes to be a very good quarterback.
"We're very excited to have those two young men added on in the spring."
Stidham was a top-rated high school quarterback in Texas - passing for 6,516 yards and 80 career touchdowns -- before signing with Baylor. He completed 75-of-109 passes for 1,265 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2015, then went to McLarren Community College in Waco but did not play this season. He has three years of eligibility remaining.
"He knows the status of he's going to come in here and compete," Malzahn said. "His skill set is that he's a very talented young man. He can make all the throws, he can run, he can extend plays. He's very accurate. He's got good leadership. He's a mature young man."
Cannella, Malzahn said, is "about 6-5, 225, 230" and was a "basketball guy in high school."
"He's got great ball skills. He's kind of a half receiver, half tight end. I think he's got great potential. We're excited to have him in the mix."
Stidham and Cannella may grab more headlines in the spring, but, for the here and know, it's the likes of White and Pettway and the rest of the Tigers. White, who was injured the later part of the season and didn't play against Alabama A&M or Alabama, "practiced the whole time" Wednesday, Malzahn said.
"He looked to me like he's 100 percent. He's ready to go and did everything the other QBs did and didn't miss a beat while doing it," Malzahn said.
Pettway, Auburn's 1,000-yard rusher, missed two games late in the year and was limited against Alabama because of a leg injury.
"Kam looked good," Malzahn said. " He did everything. All of our guys that were out there, they did everything in the 12 periods that we did without any kind of limitations. So, I thought that was good."
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine
Auburn began Sugar Bowl work Wednesday and 'the guys were extremely excited to be on the practice field.' Video. pic.twitter.com/EftsFMHQ4R
-- Auburn Gold Mine (@AUGoldMine) December 14, 2016