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Jarrett Stidham, Auburn’s latest star transfer QB, explained in 2 minutes

Stidham was a blockbuster transfer. He’s delivered.

Georgia v Auburn Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Auburn has been at its best this decade when it’s found veteran quarterbacks to slide into the position and deliver big time in their first year doing it. That was Florida and junior college transfer Cam Newton in 2010 and converted cornerback Nick Marshall in 2013.

This year, it’s Baylor transfer Jarrett Stidham.

Wait, Stidham was pretty great a few years ago, wasn’t he?

Yeah. Stidham was a four-star recruit in the class of 2015 out of Stephenville, Texas. He was the No. 2 dual-threat QB in that class behind Texas A&M signee Kyler Murray, according to the 247Sports Composite. He signed with Baylor, which was then flying high with a spread offense.

Stidham was a backup in 2015, his freshman year. But he had a couple of really encouraging spot appearances, and when junior starter Seth Russell got hurt at the end of the year, Stidham became Baylor’s primary QB for three games. He threw for 934 yards, six touchdowns, and two interceptions in those starts, while completing 63 percent of his passes. He’d enter 2016 as one of the country’s most hyped QBs.

So, why’d he transfer from Baylor?

Stidham hasn’t offered detailed reasoning in public. But he was part of a long string of Baylor players and recruits to ditch the program in the spring and summer of 2016, after Art Briles was fired amid a sexual assault scandal. That loss of personnel figured to set Baylor back years (and it appears to have done that, given the team’s awful 2017).

Stidham was also still looking up at Russell on Baylor’s depth chart. Russell was heading into his senior season, so that was understandable in some regard. But Stidham was clearly good enough to play immediately. He had to sit out a season as part of his transfer, but at least he retained that year in eligibility. Stidham would be Auburn’s QB through 2019 if he didn’t get hurt or turn pro.

When he picked Auburn as his destination, Stidham cited his relationship with Tigers offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee. The coach has since left to take the same job at UConn.

Stidham spent a semester at junior college between Baylor and Auburn.

And now Stidham’s really good at Auburn.

His numbers are a bit worse than they were during his brief stint at Baylor, but that’s easily explained by a larger sample size and competition against SEC West defenses. He also spent a few weeks fully integrating himself into a different kind of offense.

Stidham entered the Iron Bowl in Week 13 with 16 touchdown passes, four interceptions, and a 162 rating on the year. He’s been in the top tier of SEC QBs, along with Alabama’s Jalen Hurts, Missouri’s Drew Lock, and Georgia’s Jake Fromm.

The Tigers needed Stidham badly. Malzahn had struck out on a handful of quarterbacks in succession, most notably former blue-chips Sean White and Jeremy Johnson. John Franklin III, a star of Netflix’s Last Chance U who’d played at Florida State and then East Mississippi Community College, also didn’t pan out.

The Tigers have a strong running game, anchored by dark-horse Heisman contender Kerryon Johnson, but the arrival of Stidham has been most crucial to bumping Auburn up from 49th in scoring offense in 2016 to the top 20 this year. He’s both a downfield passing threat and a short-yardage running option, and the dimensions he’s added to AU’s offense have made it worlds better.

In Stidham, Auburn has found its latest quarterback savior.