AUBURN | A pair of young Tigers made strong impressions during a special teams and third-team scrimmage inside Jordan-Hare Stadium Saturday.
Both of them secured jobs as a result.
Freshman Sean White, who impressed observers with a series of sharp throws Saturday, has beaten out junior Jonathan Wallace at third-team quarterback.
Redshirt freshman Daniel Carlson, who has all but locked down the field goal and kickoff jobs, will enter the season as Auburn's top punter as well. He'll be the first Auburn player to handle all three roles concurrently since Damon Duval from 1999-02.
"He's very talented first of all -- talented enough to win the job against some pretty good punters," coach Gus Malzahn said. "We're going to have to do a good job of watching his leg -- not just every game, but especially as the season wears on with trying to keep it fresh. I'm sure there will be some growing pains, we know that anytime you go with a redshirt freshman, but he's very talented."
Carlson will have a big impact on the Tigers' season. Barring some cataclysmic development, White will not.
Still, White's performances during fall camp may be a bigger story. Though White was a four-star prospect who played well last fall and performed even better on the camp circuit, the Florida native nonetheless has a symphony of detractors.
They say he lacks upper-tier arm strength.
They say he doesn't have enough speed to affect defenses.
They said his value is too rooted in his ability to win rather than perform at a high level on an individual basis. Malzahn said Saturday that he's been summarily impressed with what his lone freshman quarterback has accomplished during the past two weeks.
"He earned it. He's very accurate," Malzahn said. "Of course, we knew that when we recruited him, but you never know how they handle everything else that goes with the position. The couple scrimmages he's been live, he runs better than everybody thinks. I really feel like he's gotten better."
Malzahn said that "in a perfect world" he'd redshirt White this season since both Nick Marshall and Jeremy Johnson already are game-tested, high-caliber players.
MORE FROM SATURDAY
FALLING STAR: Senior Robenson Therezie has been working behind Justin Garrett for much of fall camp, which seemed odd given Therezie was one of the Tigers' best players last fall.
Now we know why.
Malzahn on Saturday said Therezie is dealing with some "eligibility issues" and his status moving forward is unclear.
"We should know more in the near future," Malzahn said.
Therezie made 57 tackles last season, the sixth-highest total on the team, and led all players with four interceptions. Garrett was expected to start ahead of Therezie in 2013, but went down with the first of two foot injuries during the first week of fall camp.
Garrett is now healthy. Defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson said last week that Garrett, a junior, has been playing at a high level.
LESSON LEARNED: Malzahn said Saturday that while he regrets choosing to redshirt left tackle Greg Robinson during the 2011 season, he felt like the year gave Robinson some needed time to adjust himself to college life.
Malzahn may be more aggressive with his newest phenom.
Freshman Braden Smith, who is working primarily at left tackle right now, has wowed coaches, teammates and observers throughout fall camp. Though sophomore Shon Coleman has performed well and is expected to start against Arkansas at left tackle, Malzahn doesn't want to send Smith to the scout team this fall.
"If you get a guy that physically can play and you feel like he can get better throughout the year, and really, really be quality, I think he" should play, Malzahn said. "I mean, I'm not going to sit here and say right now for sure he's going to play, but we're leaning that way."
HEISMAN LOOK-ALIKE: Johnson, who is expected to start the Arkansas game at quarterback, said Saturday that White reminds him of former Texas A&M signal-caller Johnny Manziel.
Still, don't start making Heisman Trophy futures bets just yet.
"Actually, we call him Johnny Manziel because they look alike," Johnson said with a smile. "Sean is a great quarterback. He makes throws that any quarterback can make. He's great. He's the real deal and he's got a lot coming in the future."
A reporter then asked Johnson if White plays like Manziel.
"Nah," Johnson said. "They look alike."
HOLDING ON: White's ability to earn the No. 3 quarterback job puts junior Jonathan Wallace in a tough spot.
He started as a freshman in 2012. He split time between the second- and third-team offense last fall. With White now ahead of him in the pecking order, Wallace clearly isn't making much progress toward the starting job.
Wallace does have a role, though. He's expected to open the season as Auburn's holder.
"He's valuable in a lot of areas," Malzahn said. "He's doing some holding, he's on special teams and he's also a solid quarterback in his own right. So, you know, we've got four guys we feel good about being able to step up and run our offense."
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