As roster movement continues around the Southeastern Conference and college football as a whole, one of the more interesting transfers involves Texas A&M starting quarterback Zach Calzada. He is checking out of College Station and making the move to Auburn for his redshirt junior season.
Originally from Sugar Hill, Ga., and Lanier High, the same school where former Auburn All-American defensive tackle and current NFL player Derrick Brown was a star, Calzada looks to be the type of quarterback Coach Bryan Harsin prefers–tall with a strong arm.
Calzada, who is 6-4, 210 pounds, was an Under Armour All-American as a high school senior. He played briefly in 2019 for the Aggies and was redshirted. He did not play at all in 2020. In preseason of 2021 he was in what Coach Jimbo Fisher said was a close competition with Haynes King, who opened the season as the starter. King suffered a broken bone in his ankle in game two vs. Colorado, opening up an opportunity for Calzada.
Auburn fans saw Calzada complete 15-29 passes for 192 yards in a 20-3 victory for the Aggies over the Tigers at College Station in November. Texas A&M’s only touchdown that day was scored by its defense.
For the season Calzada didn’t wow anybody with his numbers, but did have a very good performance in a victory over Alabama. He completed 56.3 percent of his passes for an average of 182.1 yards per game in 2021. The QB threw for 17 touchdowns and was intercepted nine times.
With Bo Nix leaving the program to play for the Oregon Ducks and T.J. Finley struggling as the starter for the Tigers, it is not surprising the Tigers went to the transfer portal to find a quarterback with college starting experience.
It looks like the competition to be Auburn’s starting QB will feature two similar players with Finley, another tall pocket passer, looking to hold on to his No. 1 spot on the depth chart.
The Tigers’ other two scholarship QBs for 2022 are Dematrius Davis, who did not get on the field for a single play last season as a true freshman, and early high school graduate Holden Geriner from Savannah, Ga., who led his team to a state championship as a senior.
Whoever is throwing passes for the Tigers in 2022 will be playing with a wide receivers group that needs to improve. The situation wasn’t helped when the leading receiver, Kobe Hudson, was dismissed from the team by Harsin for undisclosed reasons. Something that should help partially negate that loss is Shedrick Jackson deciding to return for another year. The senior is taking advantage of the pandemic exception rule that will allow him to return for a do-over senior season after having a breakout year in 2021.
Mark Murphy is the editor of Inside the Auburn Tigers magazine and newsletter.