- Greg Ostendorf, ESPN Staff Writer
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AUBURN, Ala. -- The last time Auburn turned to a dual-threat junior college quarterback, it resulted in a national championship. New head coach Gus Malzahn is hoping for similar results after he named Nick Marshall the starter on Saturday.
“Nick Marshall has emerged and earned the right to be our starting quarterback,” Malzahn said in a press release. “As I’ve said, we wanted to go with the guy that gives us the best opportunity to win football games and Nick is that guy.
“He has caught on quickly in the short period of time he has been with us. He is a playmaker with a big upside, and once he becomes more comfortable with the offense, he has the chance to improve each week.”
Marshall, who originally signed with Georgia out of high school as a cornerback, beat out true freshman Jeremy Johnson and returning starters Kiehl Frazier and Jonathan Wallace. Frazier took himself out of contention when he moved to safety last week.
At Garden City (Kan.) Community College last year, Marshall threw for 3,142 yards and 18 touchdowns. He also rushed for 1,095 yards and 19 touchdowns.
Although he didn’t arrive on campus until the summer, the 6-foot-1, 210-pound signal-caller has already impressed a number of his teammates with his athletic ability.
“Him coming here and showing how athletic he and how fast he is, his ability to extend the play and make things happen with his legs, it’s something you just have to watch,” tight end C.J. Uzomah said. “You can’t really say, ‘the defensive end would’ve tackled him.’ Probably not. He’s a blazing guy. It’s something kind of special.”
When Marshall takes the field against Washington State in two weeks, he will become the seventh different quarterback to start the season opener in the past seven seasons for Auburn. The last time the Tigers had a returning starter at quarterback was in 2007 with Brandon Cox.
Malzahn hopes Marshall more resembles the last junior college quarterback to start for Auburn.