Alabama quarterback Mac Jones was a thin three-star recruit who needed to wait in a frightening line for a beginning shot. Bo Nix arrived at Auburn as a prized recruit and has began each recreation since.
They’ve taken totally different profession paths however each enter Saturday’s Iron Bowl taking part in effectively.
Jones has emerged as a Heisman Trophy contender and a worthy successor to Tua Tagovailoa, main the top-ranked Crimson Tide into the sport towards Nix and the No. 22 Tigers. His days as a largely unheralded recruit destined to labor behind eventual NFL quarterbacks Tagovailoa and Jalen Hurts appear a distant reminiscence.
”You understand, folks all the time offer you a ranking or no matter in highschool, however when you step on campus that does not actually matter,” Jones stated.
That goes each methods.
Nix arrived on campus with extra acclaim as a five-star recruit and the son of a former Auburn quarterback, Patrick Nix. He additionally did not get the time to ease into Southeastern Convention soccer and has needed to study on the job, with all of the rising pains that entails.
Nix did assist direct Auburn to a 48-45 Iron Bowl win in his first begin within the bitter rivalry. After all that was at house, not at Bryant-Denny Stadium even when it is earlier than a crowd shrunken by pandemic guidelines.
”I feel it provides me a number of confidence, figuring out that I am going into a troublesome place,” stated Nix, who received a highschool state title on the stadium. ”Clearly we now have a ton of men coming again, a number of the identical talent guys that we had final 12 months, after which clearly a number of guys on the defensive facet of the ball that do the identical factor.
”So I really feel snug. Loads of the blokes that made large performs final 12 months, they’re again.”
Jones made some large performs in final 12 months’s Iron Bowl, too, however could not overcome having two interceptions returned for touchdowns. He handed for 335 yards and 4 touchdowns after changing an injured Tagovailoa for the previous couple of video games.
Now, Jones is likely one of the nation’s prime passers and directing probably the most harmful offenses. He ranks third nationally in passing effectivity and yards per recreation with a mean of 366. He is additionally second in yards per try (12.41) and completion proportion (78.5).
And he is among the many main Heisman contenders. Jones acknowledges he has the luxurious of main an offense loaded with stars like tailback Najee Harris and broad receiver Devonta Smith and a formidable line.
”’You see it on TV and stuff however I am not on social media,” Jones stated of the Heisman hype. ”All of that is actually is a distraction. We clearly have nice gamers right here and it in all probability makes me look so much higher than I truly am, and there is gamers on our group that needs to be in that speak.”
His numbers are worthy of Heisman consideration, although it is a season the place not all of the doubtless candidates have had equal possibilities: 2,426 yards and 18 touchdowns towards three interceptions. The 6-foot-3, 214-pound Jones, who arrived at nearer to 180 kilos, has much more seasoning than he did in that final Auburn recreation.
”I feel he is received much more expertise, he is received much more data, he is much more assured,” stated Alabama coach Nick Saban, who will not be on the recreation due to a constructive COVID-19 take a look at. ”I feel the advance is fairly apparent to everyone that watches the video games.”
Ditto for Nix since his three-interception efficiency when Auburn was upset by South Carolina. He has handed for 5 touchdowns and rushed for 2 extra towards only one interception within the three video games since.
”It was a troublesome go, however when he bounced again we talked about it,” Auburn coach Gus Malzahn stated. ”He bounced again identical to I knew he would. He is been taking part in extraordinarily effectively proper now. I feel you’ve got seen him develop and get higher every recreation.
”He is nonetheless studying. A brand new coordinator (Chad Morris). A brand new offense. You have seen him develop. I feel he is in a great spot to complete this season out.”
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