Auburn quarterback Jeremy Johnson is fast becoming the It Quarterback of the 2015 college football season. Johnson went from off the board of Bovada’s Heisman Trophy odds in May, to one of the award’s top contenders as of last week.
Now, at SEC media days, Jeremy Johnson is fast becoming the buzz of reporters on the seen in Hoover, Alabama.
Auburn QB Jeremy Johnson intrigues me as much as any person, player or coach, at #SECMD15. Ceiling is incredibly high as player, leader.
— Trav Haney (@TravHaneyESPN) July 13, 2015
Some are calling Auburn's Jeremy Johnson the best QB in the SEC. For now the junior just smiles at those expecations http://t.co/JPYqbTqs8j
— Michael Bonner (@MikeBBonner) July 13, 2015
— Patrick Shuck (@pshuck) July 13, 2015
That last tweet segues nicely into one of the popular, early topics broached with Jeremy Johnson in Monday’s session: comparisons to Cam Newton. It’s understandable folks would be quick to draw the parallel.
Johnson is big: really big. AuburnTigers.com lists him at 6-foot-5, 240 pounds, almost identical to Newton’s current 6-foot-5, 245-pound frame. Johnson also told reporters Monday that his mobility will turn heads in 2015.
Jeremy Johnson on his running ability: People will be amazed. But for the people who have seen me run, they won't be surprised.
— Matt Smith (@MattSmithCFB) July 13, 2015
We already know from the glimpses seen in his opportunities last season that Jeremy Johnson has a cannon arm, but adding scrambling ability at that size is bound to elicit comparisons to Cam Newton. Newton was an outlier when he won the Heisman Trophy in 2010 with that same blend of size, speed and arm strength.
Oh, and Newton played under the guidance of then-offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn, who just so happens to be Jeremy Johnson’s head coach at Auburn now.
Malzahn and Newton will forever be synonymous in college football circles, much in the same way Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen is tied to former Florida star, Tim Tebow. In that vein, the Johnson-Newton comparisons are also similar to parallels drawn between Tebow and Mullen’s current quarterback, Dak Prescott.
Prescott heads into the 2015 season as the SEC’s most recognizable quarterback, but Johnson is fast gaining ground on him. Should Auburn be as good as some are projecting — which is partially contingent on Johnson reaching his ceiling — the Tiger quarterback will pass Prescott.
The formula for a monster season certainly exists. The hyper-speed, spread offense Jeremy Johnson is now entrusted with fueled Cam Newton’s Heisman run. It also helped Arkansas State’s Ryan Aplin put up some of the most impressive stats of any quarterback, non-power conference or otherwise, in the 2012 season.
Upon Malzahn’s return to Auburn, the system allowed converted defensive back Nick Marshall to transform into one of the nation’s most explosive, dual-threat quarterbacks, and the Tigers returned to the BCS Championship Game in the process.
Certainly Malzahn’s offense is a big reason Jeremy Johnson is creating so much buzz, but to credit the system exclusively would be egregious. Johnson has prototypical, pocket quarterback qualities that make him an intriguing NFL draft prospect. He could be one of the most coveted quarterback underclassmen for the 2016 draft class, along with Ohio State’s national championship-winning Cardale Jones — a player to whom Johnson might actually compare more to than Cam Newton.
Like Jones, Johnson is a physical anomaly and we’re just scratching the surface of his lofty potential. Unlike Jones, who burst onto the national scene unexpectedly at the end of last season, the hype is coming before the production for Johnson.
Should he approach the level of his growing buzz, Jeremy Johnson could very well end the 2015 season where Cam Newton closed the 2010 campaign, or Cardale Jones finished last year: hoisting a national championship trophy.