AU names Marshall as its starting quarterback
by Associated Press
Aug 17, 2013 | 2200 views |  0 comments | 20 20 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Auburn quarterbacks Jeremy Johnson (6) and Nick Marshall (14) work out. (Photo by Julie Bennett/Associated Press)
Auburn quarterbacks Jeremy Johnson (6) and Nick Marshall (14) work out. (Photo by Julie Bennett/Associated Press)
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AUBURN — With little fanfare, Auburn's starting quarterback battle ended.

Nick Marshall was selected as the Tigers' starter Saturday evening.

And instead of making the declaration in front of reporters, Gus Malzahn simply took to his personal Twitter account.

"I've named Nick Marshall our starting QB," Auburn's head coach posted. "He's earned that opportunity. Auburn family let's get behind him and the team."

A few minutes after his Twitter post, a release was sent by the Tigers' athletic department. In it, Malzahn said Marshall had "earned the right" to become the Tigers' starting signal-caller heading into the season.

"As I’ve said, we wanted to go with the guy that gives us the best opportunity to win football games, and Nick is that guy," Malzahn said in the release. "He has caught on quickly in the short period of time he has been with us. He is a playmaker with a big upside, and once he becomes more comfortable with the offense, he has the chance to improve each week."

The 6-foot-1, 210-pound Marshall played cornerback and special teams as a freshman at Georgia. After he was dismissed from the team in February 2012 for undisclosed violations, he transferred to Garden City Community College in Kansas and passed for 3,142 yards and 18 touchdowns while rushing for 1,095 yards and 19 scores.

As a prep star, Marshall set the Georgia High School Association record with 103 career touchdown passes.

The news of Marshall winning the Auburn job should come as little to surprise to those who have followed the quarterback competition. Marshall was the favorite in many people's minds the moment he announced he would transfer to Auburn.

Fullback Jay Prosch said it wasn’t hard to see Marshall's natural ability immediately.

"This summer I noticed he had a great arm and could really throw the ball and move really well at workouts," he said. "When camp started, it was kind of the same stuff really. It took a while for me to figure out and see differences. It was definitely hard on Nick coming in and not knowing much about the offense and not having the spring. Now I can see a big difference. (He has) adapted and is doing very well.”

Tight end C.J. Uzomah knew about Marshall long before he came to Auburn. The Georgia natives hung out together during their high school careers, making Uzomah well aware of the quarterback's gifts on the gridiron and in basketball.

Marshall has used preseason camp to showcase that to the rest of the team.

"Him coming here and showing how athletic he is and how fast he is and his ability to extend the play and make things happen with his legs … it's something you just have to watch," the junior tight end said. "You can't really say, 'All right, the defensive end would have tackled him.' Probably not. He probably would have run out. He's a blazing guy. It's something kind of special."

Earlier in the week, offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee was asked about Marshall's experience at the junior college level. Lashlee acknowledged that while it might not be the Southeastern Conference, it's still a step up from high school.

Now, Marshall will see if he can translate his success to the toughest conference in college football.

"I would think it would be good," Lashlee said. "He's an older guy, and when you come from junior college, he's played (college football) for three years, so he understands that. And he's also two years older than your average young man coming out of high school, so there's a natural maturity level that should exist."

One thing never in doubt was Marshall's arm strength. Some have claimed that Marshall could throw the ball nearly 80 yards. Malzahn didn't want to speculate on the distance -- he was more focused on how much zip Marshall could put on the ball.

"And not just the long throws, but he throws the short throws real hard, too," Malzahn said early in preseason practice. "It's just going to be a matter of him learning the offense, (and) at times, when to put touch on the ball. But he's got an outstanding opportunity."
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