AUBURN, Ala. – Auburn coach Gus Malzahn announced in a post-practice news conference Thursday night that sophomore Sean White will be Auburn’s starting quarterback.
The announcement came after Malzahn and his staff spent the majority of the preseason choosing deliberating between White, senior Jeremy Johnson and JC transfer John Franklin III.
Throughout camp, Malzahn expressed his inability to choose because of the equal performances among the three.
"It was a very good race," Malzahn said. "All three guys competed at a very high level, but I felt like it was time to name a starter and Sean won the job."
White (6 feet 0, 200 pounds), generally considered the best passer among the trio, started six games last season, including the Birmingham Bowl rout of Memphis; he threw for 1,167 yards, one touchdown and four interceptions.
"He's earned it," Malzahn said. "He's a guy that has experience in our offense last year. He's a tough guy. He’' in a good spot to lead this team, and the team is going to rally around him."
White was told he had won the job before Thursday's practice.
"I feel like (my teammates) have a reason to believe in me," White said. "Our team motto this year was 'Earn it' … so it felt good; it felt like I earned my spot. … I believe Jeremy and John are very good quarterbacks. I learn from them every day, and to be able to compete with them has been great. It's made me better."
That he played last season was a surprise, considering the preseason hype surrounding Johnson. But Johnson started poorly and was benched after the first three games. This season, White said he is better prepared.
"Before (last) season … I wasn't preparing to go out there and start and lead the team before my name was called on," White said. "But now this year, I've had all spring and all preseason to prepare like I'm the starter, and I think that's been a huge difference as far as timing the receivers and just being able to go out there and … lead everybody."
White missed three late-season games with foot and knee injuries, but said he now feels healthier than ever.
"It did bother me," White said. "But that’s no excuse – I should've played better in the season when I did. I mean if you're going to play, you've got to play well, so that's my focus this year, to stay healthy and build momentum on what I did the first half of last year.
"I feel like I'm ready to go and I'm 100 percent healthy."
Auburn plays host to Clemson in its opener next Saturday.
(You can follow Lauren Christopher on Twitter @laurchristopher)
© 2016, Lauren Christopher. All rights reserved.
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