When Auburn freshman Zeke Pike was arrested in June for public intoxication, it seemed like an inauspicious start to his college career. Turns out it was an inauspicious end: Coach Gene Chizik confirmed today that his once-prized quarterback recruit will not return to Auburn from his hometown in Kentucky, where he's remained in exile for the past month, and plans to transfer.
Pike's exit is the second from Auburn in the last week, on the heels of sophomore cornerback Jonathan Rose's dismissal for "personal reasons." "They're not with our football team anymore," Chizik told al.com after the Tigers' first practice. "Their intent is to transfer to another school. We wish them the best."
Pike had only been on campus six months when he was arrested, but his reputation preceded him in more ways than one. At 6-foot-5, 220 pounds, he was a no-brainer for the scouts' lists of the most coveted "pro style" passers in the 2012 recruiting class, and represented a major victory for Auburn last summer when he committed to the Tigers over the likes of Tennessee, Clemson, Arkansas and Michigan, among others. From that point on, though, his stock took a bit of a nosedive over the course of his senior year, which began with Pike missing the first game of the season – punishment for being ejected from an offseason 7-on-7 tournament – and ended with him sitting out a playoff game for the proverbial violation of team rules. For a kid who'd already endured nagging questions about his maturity for most of the last year, there was no margin for error.
The loss might make bigger waves if Pike had been able to gain more ground in the spring on junior Clint Moseley and sophomore Kiehl Frazier, who opened today's practice at 1. and 1a. on the depth chart, in no particular order. Nothing at quarterback is written in stone, especially with a new offensive coordinator, Scott Loefler, charged with overhauling an attack that sunk to 100th nationally last year in yards per game and shelved the winner of the preseason quarterback derby, Barrett Trotter, for good by midseason. In discussing Pike's exit, Chizik said newly arrived freshman Jonathan Wallace had "capitalized" on the opportunity for third-team reps behind the veterans. If the ball ever falls that far down the depth chart, courtesy of injury, ineptitude or any other circumstance, there's probably not much Pike could have done, anyway.