The Auburn football program has had a resurgent month under Bryan Harsin’s watch. After falling short on National Signing Day 2021, the Tigers roared back to land several highly coveted recruits and transfers in recent weeks.
Harsin followed up his recent success with a blockbuster commitment from 4-star defensive end Dillon Brooks. Brooks de-committed from Tennessee and our own Mary Kate Hughes forecasted Brooks’ hard commitment to Auburn football just yesterday.
With the recruiting class now ranked 20th in the nation for 2021, a massive footprint has been left already by Harsin and his newly implemented support staff. It could get even bigger if the program can land the biggest quarterback name in the transfer portal: Oregon’s Tyler Shough.
As my co-editor Mary Kate has said, Shough’s 2020 resume was significantly more impressive than Bo Nix’s:
Tyler Shough, who will have three years of NCAA eligibility has decided to explore what else is out there, and has entered the transfer portal as a grad transfer. The durable Shough started every game for the Ducks in the 2020 season and led the Pac-12 conference in passer rating. According to current NCAA ratings, Shough is the 15th best QB in the NCAA FBS in passing efficiency with 1,559 yards in just seven games.
That same rankings list puts Bo Nix at No. 82. Like many Auburn fans, we at Fly War Eagle are wondering if it’s possible for Nix to progress further at the position. Many of the problems riddling Nix’s game–passing inconsistencies, leaving the pocket too early, panicking, and throwing the ball away–are problems that were excusable in his first season due to age and inexperience, but 2020 didn’t seem to bring much improvement.
Shough is likely a superior option to Nix at this point, but Nix has the tools to surpass him if Mike Bobo can have a positive impact on the soon-to-be 21-year-old. There was significant improvement in the run game for Nix in 2020, but his ability to launch from the pocket has been absent so far during his time on the Plains.
That said, it’d take a lot to unseat the 5-star recruit and 2018 Mr. Alabama from his perch as the Tigers’ starting signal-caller.
In addition to Nix, Dematrius Davis is also lurking in the shadows from the bench. The 4-star quarterback from Texas (a proven breeding ground for champion quarterbacks for Auburn football) could put his hat–or helmet?–in the running for snaps.
The quarterback competition at Auburn–as 247Sports’ Brandon Marcello pens–may be the biggest drawback for Shough joining Harsin’s inaugural Tigers team in 2021:
Bo Nix figures to be the starter for a third straight year, even with a new coach leading the program after Gus Malzahn was fired in December. Bryan Harsin has a decision to make here if he’s serious about pursuing Shough. Nix fully expects to be the starter next season, even after something of a sophomore slump in 2020. Would Harsin open up the quarterback battle if Shough transferred to Auburn? Would Nix stick around if that happened? Is Shough an upgrade or a push at quarterback compared to Nix?
It’s definitely of note that Marcello even floated the possibility of Nix transferring if Shough were to arrive. With Davis already a threat to the position, Nix’s status with Auburn football seems less set in stone than it ever has. That said, there have been no substantiated reports that he is a flight risk at this point.
As for the one team that was deemed a better fit, that would be the Penn State Nittany Lions. You know, the team with a player in every Super Bowl since 1967 (except five).
Fly War Eagle will follow the Shough situation like a hawk to a field mouse. Not only that, but any chatter about Nix potentially heading for the hills and away from the Plains will be on our radar.