AUBURN, Ala. -- Gus Malzahn knew he had a big decision to make Saturday regarding his starting quarterback. What the Auburn coach didn’t know was that he would have to make another difficult decision and dismiss senior defensive back Demetruce McNeal from the team.
McNeal was arrested early Saturday for possession of marijuana. He missed practice, and after meeting with Malzahn, he was dismissed from the team. For more on the arrest, click here.
As a junior, McNeal finished with 90 tackles, including seven for a loss. He also had two career interceptions. He was expected to start this season at one of the safety spots for new defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson, but the Tigers will now have to look elsewhere. They do have two options that have emerged since the new staff took over.
Sophomore cornerback Joshua Holsey moved to safety in the spring and will likely stick there following Saturday’s news. He made six starts last year at corner.
“Josh is a very savvy football player,” Malzahn said. “When we made the move, he really didn’t miss a lick. He’s got a lot of natural instincts, and he’s a guy you can count on.”
Former starting quarterback Kiehl Frazier made the transition to safety last week, and he has picked up the position quickly. Malzahn said there’s a good chance Frazier will play in the season opener against Washington State in two weeks.
“He’s really got off to a good start,” Malzahn said. “Coach [Charlie] Harbison is very excited about him. Coach [Ellis] Johnson is, too. He understands football, and he understands offenses and what they’re trying to do with splits and everything that goes with it.”