Given that his competition has been 1. a lightly-regarded true freshman 2. a veteran with a shoulder injured badly enough he said himself he'd be "on the DL" if he played baseball , the question wasn't if Auburn quarterback Kiehl Frazier would earn the team's starting nod as much as when.
Anxious Tiger fans will no doubt be relieved that the answer proved to be Thursday, as the program announced on its official Twitter feed that Gene Chizik had named the sophomore the starter for Auburn's season opener against Clemson.
"After a complete and thorough evaluation during spring practice and through the first three-plus weeks of camp, Kiehl Frazier has earned the starting job at quarterback," Chizik said in a statement. "We expect Kiehl to be a leader for this team and to continue to work hard every day. I am confident in his ability and leadership skills and look forward to watching him progress in both areas."
Though used frequently as a wildcat-style quarterback as a true freshman in 2011 (327 rushing yards, three touchdowns), Frazier only rarely threw the ball, attempting just 12 passes. Those passes didn't amount to a lot, either; five of them were completed for only 34 yards, no touchdowns, and two interceptions.
Despite his inexperience, Frazier's four-star potential and athleticism made him the favorite entering Auburn's first spring camp under new offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler. He exited it as the heavy favorite after junior Clint Moseley struggled all spring with his shoulder injury.
None of that changed once fall camp opened, though Auburn's coaches have been pleasantly surprised by the strong play of true freshman Jonathan Wallace. That Chizik repeatedly declined to name a starter -- or even indicate that there was any separation in the race -- had been a cause for concern among Auburn fans expecting Frazier to sew up the job in much quicker fashion against the hampered Moseley or green Wallace.
Whether Chizik and Loeffler's decision to wait on making the inevitable official was due to iffy practice performance on Frazier's part, a hope that Moseley's shoulder might improve, or simply a preference to move as slowly as possible -- Chizik is the same coach who waited until more than a week after spring practice to name Cam Newton the starter over Barrett Trotter -- remains to be seen.
But at the very least, both Frazier and the Auburn offense can go forward knowing exactly who'll be taking the snaps. And after a 2011 spent waffling between Trotter and Moseley (with Frazier's contributions thrown in for good measure), that certainty will no doubt be a welcome change for the Tigers for as long as it lasts.