Another quarterback battle has been called, and another one has gone to a true freshman.
Auburn has selected Bo Nix as its starter, 11 days ahead of the No. 16 Tigers’ season opener against No. 11 Oregon at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas (7:30 p.m. ET, ABC).
He will be Auburn’s first true freshman starting quarterback since Travis Tidwell in 1946. More recently, he will be the seventh true freshman signal caller for the Tigers since 1969.
Much like at North Carolina, where a true freshman beat out redshirt freshmen for the job, this selection must be viewed in context. Auburn was going with a freshman either way, be it true freshman Nix or redshirt freshman Joey Gatewood. The offense was set to go in different directions depending on who got the job, as Gatewood (listed at 6-foot-5, 233 pounds) is built with the Cam Newton starter kit, while Nix is three inches shorter and 26 pounds lighter.
Still, Nix will be able to run the ball, and Auburn’s coaches have long been in love with his arm.
“We started recruiting Bo in 8th or 9th grade,” Gus Malzahn said back on signing day. “You knew early on that this guy had a chance to really be special. Of course when he went to Pinson, they won back-to-back state championships. He was the MVP of both of those.
“He really has something special to him. He did a super job leading. He was one of the leaders of our class, really holding everything together. I really appreciate his leadership with that.”
Playing for his father at Alabama’s Pinson Valley High School, Nix accounted for 12,000 yards of total offense, threw for 127 touchdowns, rushed for 34 more and won back-to-back Class 6A state championships.
Now, he’ll try to lead Auburn to its second SEC West championship in three years during a crucial season for Malzahn and the entire Auburn program.