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A race between friends

AUBURN – As Clint Moseley prepares to answer a question, he breaks into a laugh instead. Barrett Trotter, his neighbor, teammate and friend, stands in the door with goofy expression on his face.

Barrett Trotter is a fourth-year junior

Mosley, a third-year Auburn sophomore from Leroy, and Trotter, a fourth-year Auburn junior from Birmingham, are the best of friends. And they’re the fiercest of competitors. In a little more than a month, they will go back to the practice field, back to the race to be Auburn’s starting quarterback.

“We have to compete,” Moseley says. “Sometimes it’s hard, but we have to do it.”

Offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn will eventually make the call on who will replace Heisman Trophy-winner Cam Newton as Auburn defends its national championship. Moseley and Trotter came out of spring practice neck-and-neck.

“There are times when it really hits me that it’s almost here,” Moseley says. “I didn’t think I could play here my first year, my first two years, really. I know I can play now. I know the opportunity is here. It’s a huge deal. The way Coach Malzahn puts it, in this state there are the two head coaches, the two quarterbacks and the governor.

“We just won the national championship. It’s a big deal. That’s literally why I play, why I didn’t go somewhere small and already have played for two years. Is it nerve-wracking? Yeah, but that’s what makes it exciting. I love it.”

Moseley and Trotter spend much of their time off the field together – watching television, going out to eat, doing the things college students do. They try to avoid talking about what awaits. By the time Auburn opens its season against Utah State on Sept. 3, one of them will probably get the opportunity of a lifetime. The other will face the most bitter disappointment of his football career.

Years of practicing, working out and studying the game have led to August 2011.

“We are friends outside of football, friends during football,” Trotter says. “Whoever is the starter, the other one will be really angry, upset, whatever. I believe it won’t really affect the friendship.”

Clint Moseley is a third-year sophomore

Both have heard the talk that there could be another player in the race. Russell Wilson, the former ACC Player of the Year at North Carolina State and now a second baseman in the Rockies organization, is considering playing his final year of college football at Auburn or Wisconsin.

“I don’t worry about anybody else,” Moseley says. “Obviously, it would be a tough for somebody to come in and learn the offense enough for Coach Malzahn to trust you. Cam was an exception because he was the greatest athlete any of us have ever seen, and he was here in the spring.

“Coach Malzahn wants us to be 100 percent. There has to be no doubt in his mind how you are going to react in every situation and you have to know every play better than he does. For somebody to come in and not go through spring, is it impossible? No. But it’s unlikely.”

Trotter says he knows only what others have told him and has no real interest in knowing more.

“I don’t ever read anything in the media,” Trotter says. “I just try to not listen or pay attention to it. When people ask me about it, my response every time is ‘I have no idea. You probably know more about it than I do.’

“Coach Malzahn always tells us he wants the best guys. If he’s one of the best guys and they want him on the team, great.”

For now, Moseley and Trotter work through the oppressive heat with their teammates, looking ahead to a season they both are convinced will prove wrong those who say Auburn will fall flat in the wake of its national championship.

“I don’t think there is really any preparation for this,” Moseley says. “Think about it. Everybody in this state is either Auburn or Alabama. There are people whose whole self-esteem depends on this. The difference in Auburn fans right now and last year is crazy. It’s me going back home and not seeing a bit of orange and blue last year and this year it’s “All In. Leroy is all in.’ It’s stuff like that. It’s a big deal.”

Lifting weights until muscles scream for relief, running in temperatures near 100 degrees, Trotter says he sees a team coming together.

“Our goal should be able to create something new within ourselves to bring this team together,” Trotter says. “You can’t live on memories and expect it to get you through the next season. Every team has to want it within themselves, to grow together and be closer, to be able to back one another up and help win games. That’s something we had last year, but it’s over. It’s something we are working toward this year.”

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