Auburn’s child of destiny will see to his legacy.
A five-star recruit, a two-time state champion, a lifelong Auburn man, and the son of a Tiger, Bo Nix will start at quarterback for his school in the first game of the season against Oregon on Aug. 31 in Texas, head coach Gus Malzahn announced Tuesday afternoon.
Nix is the son of legendary Auburn quarterback Patrick Nix.
He’s also a true freshman — a 19-year-old wearing the weight of Jordan-Hare Stadium on his heart after growing up with orange and blue behind his eyes whenever he looked up into stadium lights.
But the Tigers have put their trust in the young man who may well have been preparing for this moment his entire life.
“He earned the starting quarterback job,” Malzahn said, his words carrying weight. Nothing was handed to Auburn’s prodigy son, he said, before turning the podium over to Nix in an introductory press conference Tuesday night.
“Well,” Nix said, amid camera shutters all around, “obviously, it’s a dream come true.
“I’ve always wanted to play quarterback at Auburn,” he said. “It’s a goal of mine that I’ve had for a long, long time — as far as I can remember. All the way back to throwing the football in the backyard with my dad, I wanted to play quarterback at Auburn.”
He will, and in some storybook sense, there’s no better place this school could place its trust.
Nix isn’t just his father’s son. He’s ‘all in’ on Auburn himself, his coaches say — and he’s prepared to carry dreams out on that field in AT&T Stadium in Arlington on opening night.
Nix battled redshirt freshman Joey Gatewood for the starting job at quarterback throughout spring practice and in fall camp, before Malzahn made his decision public on Tuesday.
He won two Class 6A state championships at Pinson Valley High School, shining under the wing of his father, who was his team’s head coach. After rewinding his dad’s old games on VHS tapes as a youngster, and watching the likes of Cam Newton and Nick Marshall as he grew toward his teens, he finished his high school career in fairy-tale fashion by winning the state title last December in Jordan-Hare Stadium.
Now he’s taken his place behind center, and that isn’t just a feel-good moment: It’s an advantage.
“He’s all in on Auburn. He’s all in,” Auburn offensive coordinator Kenny Dillingham said last week, a few days before Nix was named the starter. “He’s been born and raised all in. And I think for him, that’s where he finds his comfort zone and being here, which is one of the hardest things to do as a freshman, is: Do you feel comfortable? I’m moving somewhere new, and with new people: Am I comfortable?
“Well, he’s not moving anywhere,” Dillingham said. “He was born and raised an Auburn baby. He’ll be an Auburn player. He’ll be an Auburn man. Then he’ll be an Auburn dad, and he’ll be an Auburn granddad.”
Dillingham remembered having the quarterbacks over at his house at one point this offseason. “He’s like a walking encyclopedia,” he said. “Bo talked about, like, a 1987 game where we caught a fade ball or something. And I go to a book I have of Auburn history, and he’s over here telling me about things that happened before he was born.”
Patrick Nix started at Auburn in 1994 and 1995. He made his own early impression in 1993, coming on in the Iron Bowl for the injured Stan White, and throwing an immortal touchdown pass to Frank Sanders on fourth-and-15 on his first play in to help kick-start a historic Auburn comeback.
Now the son is set to make his debut in a showcase showdown with Oregon.
“I guess it’s as good as you can write up,” Nix said. “But College GameDay, for a freshman walking in, it’s your first game — some people view that as tough, but I kind of see it as fun just because it’s what you prepare for.
“I mean, 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’ll be ready to go.”
The challenges will come. So will adversity. For one day, though, the younger Nix was right: It’s as good as you can write up.