AUBURN, Ala. – Two Auburn newcomers have emerged as the front-runners to win the starting quarterback job, while a former starter is switching positions.
Coach Gus Malzahn said Monday that junior college transfer Nick Marshall and freshman Jeremy Johnson will get the majority of practice repetitions this week with the first-teamers, but didn't completely rule out Jonathan Wallace coming back to win the job. Former starter Kiehl Frazier voluntarily moved to safety Monday.
Malzahn said he and offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee met with all four quarterbacks on Sunday.
"We told them all that, 'Hey these two new guys, we feel have earned the right to compete for the job and they're going to get the majority of the reps with our ones this week,'" Malzahn said. "That's not to say that Jonathan Wallace will not be the starter come Day 1, but we are going to give those two new guys a real chance to compete for the job and really show what they can do."
Marshall, a former Georgia defensive back, topped 3,000 yards passing and 1,000 yards rushing as a sophomore at Garden City Community College in Kansas while accounting for 37 touchdowns. Johnson was Alabama's Mr. Football and one of the nation's top quarterback prospects out of Carver High School in Montgomery.
"We've seen them both improve each practice and both of them have extremely live arms," Malzahn said. "They both can run, and both of them are athletic. It's just a matter of how quick they can get acclimated. We're still looking for a couple of other situations to see how they react and see how their teammates react. With Jonathan Wallace, we know exactly what we have with Jonathan and we have a lot of respect for Jonathan."
Frazier and Wallace both started games last season, when the Tigers struggled offensively and fell to 3-9.
A former USA Today national offensive player of the year, Frazier has played in 22 games and started five the past two seasons. He was recruited by then-offensive coordinator Malzahn and ESPN.com/Scout rated him the nation's No. 2 quarterback prospect.
Frazier said he had been considering the move since a couple of weeks before preseason camp but didn't bring it up to Malzahn until Sunday.
He praised the remaining three quarterback contenders.
"All three of them are doing well enough that whoever wins the starting job, the team will be in good hands," Frazier said. "They're all three capable. They know the game. It's a good battle right now. Whoever wins it, the team will get behind them and we'll have a chance to be real good this year."
The Tigers open Aug. 31 against Washington State.