The race to replace Nick Marshall as Auburn’s starting quarterback is officially open. With Auburn getting started with spring practices on Tuesday, head coach Gus Malzahn lit the green light on the competition for four candidates for the starting job in the fall; Jeremy Johnson, Jason Smith, Tyler Queen and Sean White.
Johnson is believed to be the leading candidate for the starting job when it comes time for Malzahn to make a decision, but the head coach told reporters on Tuesday all four quarterbacks will get close to equal reps this spring. Last season saw Johnson receive playing time in seven games, and he performed well in his back-up role. Johnson completed 27 of 38 pass attempts for 436 yards and three touchdowns without an interception thrown, and he rushed for another touchdown. It was Johnson that started the season for the Tigers as Marshall sat out for disciplinary reasons, but he never was given a chance to truly challenge Marshall for the starting job. This year is a different story as the veteran and trusted Marshall has moved on and the audition for the next starting quarterback is starting up.
“The first few days of spring you want to make sure when you’re installing the base offense you give these guys enough reps,” Malzahn told reports Tuesday, as reported by Al.com. “All four quarterbacks, including [junior college transfer] Jason Smith, will get “fairly equal” snaps.”
Malzahn has seemed very high on what Smith can bring to the table, but this still feels like Johnson’s job to lose. Malzahn also suggested there is no timetable for a decision to be made, and it might be possible Smith could be moved to a different position of need if he does not win a job under center.
In addition to addressing Auburn’s quarterback competition, Malzhan also confirmed some previously reported roster changes. Linebacker Anthony Swain and punter Jimmy Hutchinson were each reported to be off the roster last week, and Malzahn confirmed that today.
Who does this NC State football team think it is, Clemson?
Citing an unnamed source, 247Sports.com has reported that defensive lineman Joseph Boletepeli (pictured, No. 99) has entered the NCAA transfer database. The website did note that “Boletepeli is still on the active roster for the Wolfpack and can still return to the program despite entering the portal.”
No specific reason for the decision was given, although playing time certainly played a role.
A three-star member of the Class of 2018 for NC State football, Boletepeli was rated as the No. 27 player regardless of position in the state of North Carolina. During his two seasons with the Wolfpack, Boletepeli played in seven games. Four of those appearances came this past season.
Boletepeli started the first two games of his true freshman campaign. This season, Boletepeli was a No. 2 defensive end who ultimately dropped further down on the depth chart.
Barring something unexpected, Boletepeli will have to sit out the 2020 season if he moves on to another FBS school. That would then leave him with two years of eligibility he could begin using in 2021.
Boletepeli is the third NC State football player to enter the portal this month. Jan. 7, linebacker Brock Miller announced on Twitter that he was leaving as a graduate transfer. A week later, defensive end Jeffrey Gunter was reported to be making the same move.
Over the weekend, Miller announced that he would be transferring to Boise State.
A familiar face has returned to the Louisville football coaching family.
In a release, Louisville announced that ACC Coach of the Year Scott Satterfield has hired Derek Nicholson to his staff as inside linebackers coach. Nicholson will take over the void left by Dale Jones‘ departure for the defensive coordinator job at Appalachian State.
“Derek has an infectious personality that will blend well within our staff,” the Louisville football head coach said in a statement. “He will bring great energy to our program and is an excellent recruiter. He has shown that he’s a great teacher of defensive football and will be a great addition to our defensive staff.”
This will be Nicholson’s second stint with the Louisville football team. In 2014, Nicholson coached the Cardinals’ outside linebackers and defensive ends.
In between his time at the UofL, Nicholson spent four years at Southern Miss. The first two he coached the defensive line. He was the co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach the past two seasons.
Nicholson played his college football at Florida State.
“I’d like to thank Scott Satterfield, Bryan Brown, Cort Dennison and the rest of the Louisville football program for this amazing opportunity,” Nicholson said. “My family and I are extremely excited to be back at Louisville and in the Atlantic Coast Conference. I look forward to working with the coaching staff and coaching the inside linebackers. There is something special is brewing in Louisville and I’m thrilled to be a part of it.”
One of the best names in the sport, and a Marshall Thundering Herd football player to boot, is the latest to hit the portal.
Over the weekend, Obi Obialo announced on his personal Twitter account that he has decided to place his name into the NCAA transfer database. The move is normally the first step in a departure, although the wide receiver could always return to the Marshall Thundering Herd football team.
“I want to thank all of the coaches and staff at Marshall for the opportunity to grow into the person and player I am today,” Obialo wrote.
Obialo also confirmed in the same post that he will be leaving the Herd as a graduate transfer. The 2020 season will serve as his final season of collegiate eligibility.
Obialo actually began his playing career at Oklahoma State as a three-star 2016 signee who was originally a walk-on. In May of 2017, Obialo opted to transfer from OSU. A month later, he moved on to Marshall.
In 2017 and 2018, Obialo started 16 games for the Thundering Herd, including all 13 in the latter season. In that 2018 season, Obialo was second on the team in receptions (42), receiving yards (505) and receiving touchdowns (four).
A foot injury sidelined Obialo for all but one game this past season. In that limited action, he caught 18 passes for 244 yards.
Because he played in just the four games, that will allow Obialo to take a redshirt for the 2019 season. The move also preserved a year of eligibility that he will presumably use elsewhere.
The lone hole on Mike Locksley‘s Maryland Terrapins football staff has been filled.
In late December, John Papuchis left the Maryland Terrapins football program to take a job with Mike Norvell at Florida State. Exactly four weeks later, Locksley has landed Papuchis’ replacement, with the addition of George Helow officially announced by the school.
Helow will serve as Maryland’s special teams coordinator. He’ll also coach the Terps’ inside linebackers.
Helow spent the past four seasons at Colorado State. The first two were as a defensive quality control coach and graduate assistant. The last two were spent as safeties coach.
The 2018-19 seasons were Helow’s first as an on-field assistant at the collegiate level.
In addition to the Mountain West Conference school, he has also been a football staffer at:
- Georgia, defensive quality control assistant (2014-15)
- Florida State, defensive graduate assistant (2013)
- Alabama, defensive intern (2012)
Helow played his college football at Ole Miss from 2006-10. Most of his action during his 38 games played came on special teams.