Willis drawing Marshall comparisons

Bryan Matthews, Senior Editor
Auburn Sports

AUBURN | Nick Marshall accounted for 6,374 yards passing and rushing and 57 touchdowns in his two years at Auburn.

In just his first few months at Auburn, true freshman Malik Willis is already drawing comparisons to the former quarterback.

“(Willis) is a stud, there’s no doubt about it,” senior center Austin Golson said. “He’s going to be really good. He kind of reminds me a lot of Nick. He can run and make plays whenever plays might not be there. I’m really excited about his future.”

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Jay G. Tate/AuburnSports.com

Willis participated in his first college scrimmage Saturday, throwing touchdown passes to Darius Slayton and John Franklin and also making some big plays on ground.

He’s not ready to challenge Jarrett Stidham or Sean White for the starting position, but he could very well be the next quarterback in line.

“I think Malik is going to be a really good player,” White said. “He has a lot of potential to him. He's really athletic and has a good attitude. I really like him a lot. He's come to learn and he's a good player.”

Like Marshall, Willis wears No. 14. He also has that same dual-threat ability along with one of the strongest arms on the team.

“He's fast and athletic,” White said. “He has a lot of similarities playing-wise to how Nick used to play.”

For now, Willis is competing with redshirt freshman Woody Barrett for a key backup quarterback role this fall. Both were live in Saturday’s scrimmage, meaning they could be hit and tackled to the ground.

“They both have the running ability. Both of them at times use their legs. But it was good to see how they react in the pocket, especially dropping back and feeling pressure,” Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said. “There's not a quick whistle like there is when you're in an orange jersey. It gave Chip some good information on both of them to start working on specific things the rest of the spring.”

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