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Talladega: Malzahn talks Stidham, NFL draft before serving as grand marshal

April 30, 2018 GMT

TALLADEGA — Auburn football coach Gus Malzahn is spending Sunday enjoying the GEICO 500, but in a visit to the media center, he gave a brief update on quarterback Jarrett Stidham.

Stidham had surgery in January on his left shoulder, which is his non-throwing shoulder. He threw for 3,158 yards this past season in his first as a full-time starting quarterback.

“He could’ve went in A-Day,” said Malzahn, who served as the honorary pace car driver in 2014 and as the race’s grand marshal Sunday. “As soon as we get back from the break, he’ll be ready to go.”

Malzahn said he thinks summer will be important for Stidham as he works with his receiving corps.

“That one-on-one continuity is important,” he said.

As for the fall for Stidham, Malzahn said, “There’s nothing like experience in the SEC. In our league, you’re facing the best defenses in the country. … This is his team, and we’re very excited about that.”

Malzahn said the only players he’s concerned may not be ready for preseason practice in August are receivers Eli Stove and Will Hastings. Both underwent knee surgery after getting hurt in the spring.

This weekend’s draft saw four Auburn players drafted, including offensive lineman Braden Smith (second round, Colts), running back Kerryon Johnson (second round, Lions), defensive back Carlton Davis (second round, Buccaneers) and place-kicker Daniel Carlson (fifth round, Vikings).

Seven have signed as free agents: offensive lineman Austin Golson, linebacker Tre Williams and offensive tackle Darius James with the Jets; safety Stephen Roberts with the Eagles; pass rusher Jeff Holland with the Broncos; and running back Kamryn Pettway and safety Tray Matthews with the Vikings.

Holland and Pettway declared for the draft despite having collegiate eligibility remaining.

“There’s no doubt that the guys who came out early will have a chance,” Malzahn said. “Each individual situation is different. There’s no formula for what NFL teams are going to do.

“Once you get in camp and can show what you can do in a competitive situation, that’s where you can get a chance.”