Last night Auburn Tiger Head Coach Gene Chizik named Senior Quarterback Chris Todd the starter for the 2009 season. Before any Auburn fans start flashing back to Tony Franklin and the terrible memories of Todd as the starter they should look at the complete story of Todd. When you look at what this young man has gone through; pride, not disappointment should be your feelings about your new starting quarterback.
As a senior QB from Elizabethtown Kentucky in 2004, Todd ran a version of the spread offense for Elizabethtown High School. He committed to Mike Leach and Texas Tech in 2005 and move to Lubbock to play in one of the most prolific pass offenses in the country. He red-shirted in 2005 and competed with Graham Harrell for the starting job in 2006. Harrell was named starter that year and while Todd did throw passes in five games that season it was obvious that he was not going to unseat Harrell as the starter. He transferred to a junior college in Kansas with the hope of getting back into a FBS school.
In 2007 Todd committed to Troy where offensive coordinator Tony Franklin offered the opportunity to throw the ball all over the place. In December of 2007 Franklin left Troy and took over as the offensive coordinator role at Auburn, replacing Al Borges. One week later Todd had an offer from the Tigers, gave his commitment as he followed Tony Franklin to Auburn. At Auburn Todd began his first of two battles for the starting quarterback position with the Tigers bowl hero Kodi Burns.
Burns had a lot of raw talent, but Todd was Tony Franklin’s guy. Todd had hurt his shoulder in JUCO, but that was never thought to be a problem and he played through the injury. Both Burns and Todd were the “starting” quarterbacks for Auburn opening day 2008 and it did not work well at all. Franklin struggled with the rotation and it became painfully obvious that the rotation wasn’t working and Todd was scared to make throws. At the time Auburn fans had no idea what was going on with his hesitancy, Todd would pump fake 2 or 3 times while staring down open receivers. Fans screamed with frustration while the Auburn offense that had two quarterbacks who could run the spread perfectly, realized there was not one who could.
Mid-Season 2008 Todd was pulled from the starting role in favor of Burns when it was obvious he was not healthy enough to play and the coach championing him was fired. Burns was not the answer to the Auburn offense last year, but he came into the spring of 2009 as the favorite to win the starting job. Todd elected to have surgery on his shoulder, which kept him out of the entire spring practice. Auburn Juniors, Neil Caudle and Burns, battled it out to a draw during the spring with neither being named starter when practices ended.
Todd continued to work hard rehabbing his shoulder and came back this summer in player led practices with more zip on the ball and a fire to prove himself. Many other players would have quit, but after being booed by Auburn fans, effectively being benched last year, the reason he came to Auburn fired in the middle of a season and a surgery he repair an injured shoulder, he did what not many would have.
Todd fought on, he stayed the course at Auburn and worked his way back learning from a new staff and knowing he had a chance to prove himself again. A story like Todd’s is what makes college football great. Hard work, perseverance and faith in oneself can go a long way and every Auburn fan should and will cheer him on every time he steps onto Pat Dye Field.
Naming Todd the starter does not make Auburn a threat to win the west or a contender for the SEC Championship; he was just the best option Auburn had. No quarterback was willing to step up and take that starting job so Todd went out and grabbed it. His story is something that all Auburn fans should be excited about and it make Todd one of the best player role models Auburn has had in years. Don’t think of Tony Franklin when you see #12 under center this year. That part of his time at Auburn is done, he is the Auburn quarterback, an Auburn man and someone you would want your kids to emulate.
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me Brian Harbach