When Gus Malzahn named Sean White as his starting quarterback last week, a lot of people were surprised. Many thought the SEC’s Tigers head coach would go with junior college transfer John Franklin III, who is more a Nick Marshall type and seems to make more sense in Auburn’s up tempo offense.
However, there was at least one guy who was not surprised White was named the starting quarterback for Saturday’s season opener against No. 2 Clemson – Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables. In fact, Venables said he kind of expected it.
When it comes to who Sean White is as a player, Venables has a pretty could idea. He recruited him out of South Florida for Clemson.
“I still have the video of him making some throws on seven-on-seven drills while I was at practice when he was at Chaminade (High School) at the time before he transferred.”
So who is Sean White, and why does Venables have so much respect for him?
“He has a quick release. He really anticipates the holes in coverage,” the Clemson coach said. “He is a tough guy. He is smart, competitive and sneaking quick. He is a little bit like (Nick) Schuessler. He can get them out of trouble.”
Venables says White is also very confident and is strong in the pocket and he trusts his teammates.
“We have seen him on film, he does make plays,” said Clemson defensive tackle Carlos Watkins.
White started six games last year after coming in for a struggling Johnson in a Week 3 loss to LSU. He started the next five games before suffering an injury in a three-overtime loss to Arkansas. He missed the final four games of the regular season and then started the Birmingham Bowl where he gave way to Johnson after throwing two first-half interceptions.
White completed 58 percent of his passes for 1,167 yards in the seven games he played in last season. He had one touchdown pass to four interceptions.
But Venables warns White is a better quarterback then the numbers from last year indicate. He is also a year wiser and understands the offense even more than before.
“Sean is a good decision maker. It is not a real surprise to us that he is named the starter. He is a quality, quality player,” Venables said. “He beat Deshaun at the Elite 11 as the top quarterback. He’s got that ‘it!’ He is a very good leader, and again, I’m going back off that recruiting and all those intangibles that you love … his leadership, his toughness, makes everybody around him better. He is confident and he has skill.”