HOOVER, Ala. (AP) — Auburn's Gus Malzahn makes it clear that his top early priority for preseason camp is picking a starting quarterback.
He says he expects "a fierce battle" between redshirt freshman Joey Gatewood and five-star recruit Bo Nix. Both players are threats to run the ball, and Malzahn has had his biggest success at Auburn with dual threat quarterbacks like Cam Newton and Nick Marshall.
Malzahn said Thursday during SEC media days "that's really a game-changer."
The coach took over play calling duties again starting with the Music City Bowl against Purdue. He got off to a good start with a 63-14 win.
The Tigers are replacing two-year starter Jarrett Stidham, who left early to enter the NFL draft. They sputtered at times last season before the bowl game and went 8-5.
Whoever wins the job will make his first start against Oregon in Arlington, Texas.
Gatewood's only action last season came in the bowl game when he attempted only one pass but gained 28 yards on three runs. Nix was rated the nation's top dual threat quarterback prospect by the 247Sports composite rankings of the major recruiting sites.
Last year's backup, Malik Willis, has transferred to Liberty.