As Jarrett Stidham suits up in his Auburn gear today, many expect this to be his last game at Jordan-Hare. Before the season, Stidham, a redshirt junior, was viewed as one of the best quarterbacks in the upcoming draft. As the season progressed, his team struggled and so did he. His stock has dropped quite a bit and has fallen to the back end of the top-10 quarterback prospects. As the season begins to come to a close, it has become a serious question to consider: Will Jarrett Stidham come back for his senior season?
It makes sense, for those who do not follow the team closely, for him to return and try to rebuild his image. However, there are many factors that may keep him from going at it for one more round. For one, the run game has been very unproductive this season. A Gus Malzahn offense is built around having a run-first system. The offensive line has not been very good at pass protection nor creating any push at the line of scrimmage; those players will return next season and will likely be the starters next year. It is a big risk and very likely that they may struggle once again to open up the run game. If the run game struggles again, it will be another unproductive season for Stidham and a plummet in his stock once more.
Speaking of the Malzahn offense, when it’s working, it works extremely well. Stidham was able to knock off two number one teams in his first season and looked like an absolute stud. Although he can rebound from a sub-par season, many NFL scouts feel as if the offense is a” very gadgety” system; it does not translate very well into the pros. He may be able to rebuild his repertoire, but it won’t necessarily help him become better prepared for the next level. There has also been rumors that Stidham has been very frustrated with Malzahn’s play calling and his family has spoken out on social media, questioning the head coach’s intelligence.
It is still very likely that he cuts his losses at the end of the season and decides to take his talent to the NFL. Some scouts have said that he is still a draftable quarterback and has a high ceiling. There is a chance that he gains some ground from Auburn’s Pro Day and the NFL Combine (considering that he gets invited). With him being a redshirt junior and graduating in December, he will be eligible to receive an invite to the Senior Bowl. The Senior Bowl should be a great opportunity as he will be surrounded by some of the best senior athletes from across the nation.
The pros and cons will weigh heavily on the young quarterback’s mind as he will have ample amount of time to decide on whether he returns or not. There’s still time for him to improve his image as he has three games left on his season, but sadly, the offense will likely not see a drastic improvement before it is all said and done. Whether his family and friends want him to stay or leave, his biggest play call will be in his hands.