HERO Sports is counting down the days until the kickoff of the 2018 college football season on Saturday, Aug. 25, by featuring the best player in the FBS at each jersey number, from 99-1. Each day, from May 18 through Aug. 24, we'll publish one article showcasing the best player whose jersey number matches the number of days remaining.
Sixth-year Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn hasn't been coaching college football for as long as most guys in the business, but he's still coached a lot of quarterbacks in his 13 years. And his current one, Jarrett Stidham, will have more freedom than any of them.
"Jarrett probably has more flexibility than any quarterback that we’ve had since I’ve been in college,” Malzahn told AL.com last October. “From the standpoint to change protections, the RPOs, the decision-making, he probably has more freedom than any quarterback we’ve had.”
And that freedom is only growing for a guy who proved his good decision-making last year with a 3:1 interception-to-touchdown ratio and only six interceptions in 370 attempts despite playing some of the best defenses in the country and suffering a torn labrum in his non-throwing shoulder. He'll be "turned loose," according to Malzahn.
"I'm extremely excited about it," Stidham said in July. "They've kind of promised me, 'Hey you're going to have more freedom at the line.' Looking at it last year, most of the time when we were having to check plays and that sort of thing, 99 percent of the time I knew exactly what we were doing because I knew what they were looking at up in the box. I think now with playing for a year, having experience, I know a little bit more football this year and I know what to expect and I know what the coaches are looking for."
Stidham enters his junior season as a Heisman Trophy and All-America candidate, potential first-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft and the best No. 8 in college football.
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