Hugh Freeze can change mind on Auburn football QB situation depending on spring

Ole Miss v Auburn
Ole Miss v Auburn / Michael Chang/GettyImages

Hugh Freeze can reportedly change his mind on the Auburn football quarterback situation depending on how things go in the spring according to Rivals' Bryan Matthews.

"This is a position that will be under a lot of scrutiny during the offseason and going into the fall," Matthews prefaced before saying, "Auburn elected not to sign a quarterback out of the portal last month but could certainly pursue one in the spring period (April 15-30) if Freeze is not satisfied with the results this spring. Freeze and his staff have taken steps to improve some important areas around the quarterback including left tackle and wide receiver."

While Matthews maintains that Payton Thorne, Holden Geriner, Hank Brown, and Walker White all have a chance to win the QB competition, there's a lot of what-ifs that will determine how ready each are for the role.

Assessing each Auburn football QB's chance to start

Freeze wants Thorne to be QB1. He made that clear ahead of the Music City Bowl that it was the Michigan State transfer's job to lose. Unfortunately, Thorne's performance made him lose that control. Following the game, Freeze opened up the QB competition due to Brown's standout showing.

Make no mistake about it, though: Freeze wants his handpicked transfer QB to work out. He wants a step forward from the graduate student. But for that to happen, Thorne needs to adjust to a new offense again. Sure, Freeze will maintain play-calling duties for the most part, but with Derrick Nix in tow, there are sure to be some wrinkles focused on boosting the running game as well.

Even with those challenges, Thorne is the presumptive favorite to win the job. Just as easily as him winning, though, is the chance that he's outplayed by the young bucks in the room and later forced to hit the portal to find playing time in his final season. There's definitely a void in Illinois' QB room, if Thorne wanted to return to his home state.

Behind him is White, who Bo Nix has strongly endorsed. White is coming off a Class 6A state title game appearance with Little Rock Christian Academy and was a known factor in the recruitment of the vaunted "Freeze Four" of Auburn football: Cam Coleman, Perry Thompson, Bryce Cain, and Malcolm Simmons.

Brown comes in close behind him after showing poise under center in his hometown back at the Music City Bowl. His chances aren't particularly high to unseat Thorne and beat out the other more highly-rated recruits, but he has the narrative and the support of Tiger fans after salvaging an otherwise painful-to-watch bowl game.

Finally, there's Geriner. For Geriner to be considered for the job, he'll need to drastically improve his pocket presence. Thus far, Geriner has been slow to react to the pass-rush and to his receivers creating separation on routes. If he doesn't show stark improvement in either area, the portal is his most likely destination. Against lesser defensive trenches than the SEC possesses, he can thrive as is. But not in this conference.