We don’t know exactly when Nick Marshall‘s season will start, but we know how it will end.
According to Auburn’s backup quarterback, Jeremy Johnson, the Tigers’ starting quarterback will in New York City in December proudly hoisting this year’s Heisman Trophy.
“He led us to the national championship, and we were 13 seconds away,” Johnson told Al.com’s Brandon Marcello. “And this year he got better at passing, better at running, better at making reads. He’s become a leader on this team and I’ve never seen him so amped at practice every day the way he is, the way he comes out. So, I know for a fact he’ll win the Heisman.”
Some of Johnson’s proclamation can be explained away due to his youthful exuberance and bias toward a friend, but there is some truth in what Johnson is saying.
Last season, Marshall led the Tigers to an SEC championship and an improbable national championship appearance. Marshall, who once played cornerback for the Georgia Bulldogs, is a perfect fit in head coach Gus Malzahn‘s high-octane offense as a dual-threat quarterback. Marshall finished last season with 1,976 passing yards, 1,068 rushing yards and 26 total touchdowns.
Marshall was one of two quarterbacks from the Power Five conferences to rush for more than 1,000 yards. The other was Ohio State’s Braxton Miller, who is also an early favorite to win this year’s Heisman Trophy.
However, the start of Marshall’s season has yet to be determined. Marshall will not start the Tigers’ first game of the season against the Arkansas Razorbacks due to an offseason citation for possession of marijuana. The quarterback has publicly apologized for the transgression, but Malzahn hasn’t decided how long Marshall will be held out of the lineup.
Of course, off-the-field issues haven’t exactly deterred Heisman candidates in recent years. Johnny Manziel, Manti Te’o and Jameis Winston were still Heisman Trophy finalists despite lingering concerns regarding their actions away from the football field.
If Marshall leads the Tigers to a similar season as last year and improve in all areas of playing quarterback, Johnson’s words could prove to be prophetic.