Auburn legacy Bo Nix will become the first true freshman to start a season-opener at Auburn in more than 70 years when he laces up his shoes and hits the field in Arlington for the Tigers' matchup against Oregon.
Nix earned the starting quarterback job for the season-opener, Auburn coach Gus Malzahn announced Tuesday.
Nix battled sophomore Joey Gatewood for the starting position during spring practice and fall camp, which ended Sunday. The move to announce Nix as starter will give him more reps with the first team and allow him to get more in sync with his wide receiver corps, including Eli Stove and Will Hastings, who returned to the practice field for the start of preparations for Oregon.
"He did a very good job with his attention to detail, with everything that goes with it," Malzahn said of Nix.
Nix's ascension to starter has been meteoric. He's been on campus a mere eight months after moving to The Plains as an early enrollee.
He last played a competitive game in Jordan-Hare Stadium on Dec. 7, leading Pinson Valley to its second-straight state title and polishing off a high-school career that saw him set the Alabama state records for total offense with 12,497 yards (10,386 passing, 2,111 rushing) and total touchdowns accounted for with 161, while learning under the tutelage of his father Pat Nix, who played quarterback for Auburn during the '90s.
Nix will be the first true freshman to start a season-opener for Auburn since Travis Tidwell in 1946, a stat Nix said was "pretty special."
"To me, it's something I was shooting for," he said. "It was a goal of mine, like I said. And honestly, that stuff, it goes to saying how good the team welcomed me in and how much they helped me get on the field kind of quickly. It was a good situation. I came in at a good situation, and our coaches — coach Malzahn and coach (Kenny) Dillingham —they did a really good job of getting me prepared quickly."
Nix said being named the starter at Auburn is a dream come true and that he is ready to lead the Tigers through one of the most difficult schedules in the country.
"It's what I signed up for," he said. "I knew coming to Auburn we were going to have a tough schedule every year, maybe the toughest in the country this year. But the good thing is that I have a really good defense, a really good offensive line and great skill players around me. So long as I just do my job, everything else will take care of itself and I can kind of depend on them a little bit."
Nix will get his first start during primetime under the bright lights of AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, when the Tigers open the season against Oregon on Aug. 31.
For his part, Nix welcomes the challenge.
"I guess it is as good as you can write up — College GameDay for a freshman walking in as your first game," he said. "Some people view that as tough, but I kind of see it as fun because it is what you prepare for. Why else would you play if you can't play at the highest atmosphere, environment and all that stuff? It will be fun and we will be ready to go."
As for Gatewood, Malzahn said he feels confident that he has to quarterbacks that could lead the Tigers to wins this fall. Nix said Gatewood handled the news as best as could be expected.
"Joey is a great talent," Nix said. "He can run the ball and throw the ball just about as good as anybody. We have two really good quarterbacks on Auburn. That's for sure."