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Could Robby Ashford be the SEC’s most surprising player in 2023?

Freshman transfer quarterback Robby Ashford was thrown into the fire in 2022 and made the most of the hand he was dealt.

Filling in for an injured T.J. Finley after Auburn’s loss to Penn State, Ashford ultimately took over the starting quarterback role and passed for 1,613 yards and seven touchdowns in his initial college season.

Heading into 2023, Ashford will need to prove to his new head coach that he is worthy of taking over the starting quarterback spot again. While many are doubtful of his abilities, one national college football analyst has high hopes for Ashford.

Josh Pate, the host of The Late Kick from 247Sports, says that Ashford is a winner and that he will have the chance to showcase that trait this season.

“I happen to think Robby Ashford has winning football inside of him. I don’t know whether it’s seven wins or 10 wins, I think he got the right head coach at the right time. My suspicion is that we will be watching the SEC come November if he’s healthy and say ‘I had no clue Robby Ashford was this good.’ …I think Robby Ashford is going to be a pretty good football player this year. He’s still going to have to prove it.”

Ashford is in a quarterback battle with Holden Geriner and T.J. Finley this spring and will compete with incoming freshman Hank Brown once he arrives on campus this summer. Hugh Freeze’s initial reaction to the quarterback room suggests that Ashford, and every Auburn quarterback, will have an uphill battle this spring.

“I thought our quarterbacks threw some decent balls, at times, and other times where our mechanics were really bad. But I kind of expected that,” Freeze said on the opening day of spring practice on Feb. 27.

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Story originally appeared on Auburn Wire