Willis No. 2 QB; expected to play

Bryan Matthews, Senior Editor
Auburn Sports

AUBURN | The plans for Malik Willis changed dramatically this week.

Auburn’s true freshman quarterback went from third-team and likely redshirt to second-team and likely to play following the dismissal of junior Sean White.

“I think now that he's the No. 2 guy you have to think differently as far as that goes,” said Auburn coach Gus Malzahn on playing Willis this fall. “I know he's up for that.”

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Robin Conn/AuburnSports.com

Willis enrolled in January and went through spring drills, impressing the Auburn staff from the outset. He continued that through the summer and fall camp.

Now, he’ll be the primary backup to starter Jarrett Stidham.

“We've been saying for a while we feel very good about him,” Malzahn said. “The way that he's performed in fall camp, specifically the scrimmages was very impressive. He started out the first two weeks and he was our No. 2 guy anyway. He got a lot of reps with the twos, some with the ones, and we feel good about him moving forward if something were to happen to Jarrett.”

Walk-on Devin Adams along with wide receiver Ryan Davis will be the emergency backups behind Stidham and Willis. Davis played quarterback in high school.

“If you watch (Adams), every time he gets an opportunity to get in a game, whether it's spring game or a game, he makes plays,” Malzahn said. “Devin is in the room with them and he at least knows the base offense. He's been spending some time with the scout team so he'll have to be more involved with that.

“Ryan Davis is a guy we're also going to take a look at with some snaps. He did some last year with that.”

Malzahn said senior Jason Smith, who was a quarterback in high school and junior college, will remain at safety unless the quarterback position is hit with injuries.

Jarrett and Willis are the only two scholarship quarterbacks left on Auburn’s roster after starting the spring with six. Woody Barrett and Tyler Queen both transferred in the spring. John Franklin III left during fall camp and White was dismissed Monday.

“Obviously when you lose one of the guys that has experience, that's concerning. But at the same time, the opportunity Malik Willis has now, which we've been extremely high on him,” Malzahn said. “Obviously, when you lose an experience guy it does affect your depth. But right now I'll say we have two guys that we feel comfortable with playing.”

Kickoff at Memorial Stadium is set for 6:30 p.m. CT on ESPNU.

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