The most coveted junior college quarterback on the market -- Jarrett Stidham -- will decide on his future soon. Stidham, a former Baylor quarterback who hails from Stephenville, Texas, spoke with ESPN.com’s Max Olson about his pending decision. Several teams are in the running for his services.
SEC reporters Sam Khan Jr. and Greg Ostendorf discussed which SEC teams might be the best fit for Stidham:
The question: Who benefits the most from Jarrett Stidham?
Ostendorf: It’s no secret that quarterback play in the SEC has been down for a couple of years now, so I think there are a number of teams who would love to have Stidham next year. The team that needs him the most? Auburn. The quarterback makes or breaks Gus Malzahn's offense. We saw it in 2010 with Cam Newton and again in 2013 and 2014 with Nick Marshall. I know Sean White is coming back and he was solid when healthy, but Stidham would be a game-changer for the Tigers -- like Marshall and Newton were before him. He could take Auburn from merely a bowl team to a legit contender in the SEC.
Khan Jr.: I think Florida and Texas A&M could really use a guy like Stidham. We saw what happened to both teams when their starting quarterbacks got hurt -- the offense suffered. I think the Aggies would benefit the most for a couple of reasons: Stidham's skill set fits their offense like a glove and there is nobody on the depth chart with significant starting experience returning. Florida at least has Luke Del Rio, who was the starter before getting injured. With Trevor Knight graduating, Texas A&M's options are Jake Hubenak, who has started three games, redshirt freshman Nick Starkel and true freshmen Kellen Mond and Connor Blumrick. I think if Stidham chose A&M, he'd walk in and start immediately and would do really well.
Ostendorf: Speaking of fit, a 6-foot-3, 210-pound dual-threat quarterback with a strong arm? That's a dream fit for Malzahn and his offense. Auburn wants somebody who is efficient, who can run and who has the arm strength to throw the ball deep and create explosive plays. Stidham checks all those boxes. As a freshman at Baylor, he completed nearly 70 percent of his passes and threw 12 touchdowns to just two interceptions. He didn't run that much, but I think that would change if he played at Auburn next fall.
Khan: Maybe Stidham could be what Jeremy Johnson was supposed to be at Auburn.
Ostendorf: Maybe so. It’s funny because Johnson and Stidham aren’t all that different at this point in their careers. It wasn’t until Johnson became the full-time starter at Auburn that he began to struggle. The hype got to him. How will Stidham handle that same kind of hype? We know it’s coming regardless of which school lands him. And for what it's worth, Jim McElwain has a pretty good track record with quarterbacks too. The offense is different, but I still think Stidham would thrive at Florida.
Khan: You're right, McElwain historically has done well with the quarterbacks he's tutored. Look at what he did at Alabama (with Greg McElroy), at Colorado State (with Garrett Grayson) and now at Florida (with Will Grier and Del Rio). Someone with Stidham's talent would do fine under his watch, I'm sure. The thing with the Gators is they have Del Rio, Feleipe Franks and Kyle Trask. And they also have Jake Allen committed in their current recruiting class. Do they feel comfortable with what they have or do they feel Stidham gives them a better shot?
Khan: It's possible. I think the issue would be more in getting Mond to stick with his plan to go to Texas A&M if they take Stidham's commitment. Mond is planning to enroll in January, and given the quarterback situation in College Station, my guess is he's determined to compete for the starting job. If Stidham were there, I wonder if Mond would change course. It seems to me like the A&M staff is being careful about this, as to not scare Mond away and disrupt the recruiting class. They may end up passing on Stidham, which I don’t necessarily think is the wisest choice.
If for some reason both of those quarterbacks ended up on campus, keep this in mind: Stidham will be draft eligible after the 2017 season.
Ostendorf: If Stidham were to choose Texas A&M, don't be surprised if Mond flips his commitment to Auburn. There was heavy interest from Malzahn and his staff before Mond committed to the Aggies, and they still don't have a quarterback in their 2017 class.
Khan: Greg, where does Sean White's future fit into all of this, considering Auburn's heavy pursuit of Stidham? I thought he did a solid job for them as a starter this season.
Ostendorf: That's interesting because I'm with you; I thought White played well up until the Georgia game when he clearly was hurt. But seeing the coaches go after the No. 1 junior college player in the country isn't exactly a vote of confidence. I'm sure they're promising White the opportunity to compete for the starting job even if they get Stidham, but you don't go and get a guy like Stidham to be the backup.
How can you blame any of these three coaches for going after Stidham? You want the best guy regardless of who already is on your roster.
Khan: I've been aware of Stidham since he was a sophomore at Stephenville (Texas) High School and everyone I talked to around these parts said he was going to be a great one. Whoever lands him is going to be pretty happy.