AUBURN, Ala. — Nothing was going to deter commit Carlito Gonzalez from coming to Auburn. Yet even after 18 months of being committed, officially visiting over the weekend only increased the defensive back’s eagerness to become a Tiger.
While spending time with the soon-to-be teammates he’s come to know through his recruitment process, Gonzalez also continued familiarizing himself with new Auburn’s new defensive backs coach, Greg Brown.
The only thing that somewhat surprised Gonzalez and fellow commits Traivon Leonard and Jordyn Peters was how much they were already starting to process in such a short time.
“I’m just learning stuff and I’m not even here yet,” said Gonzalez, who was hosted by Marlon Character. “It’s going to be something serious when I do get here. He (Character) taught me a lot of stuff about how the DBs practice and everything,” Gonzalez said. “I just got a lot of experience. “I’m going to learn from Tray Matthews of course and the other two safeties that are here. I feel like I’m going to come in and play as a freshman and make an impact and just learn and grow.”
That knowledge is going to be critical with the turnover Auburn will have at the cornerback position in the future — four Tigers will be seniors next season.
And though the trio doesn’t know their new position coach well, the group already respects Brown, who’s coached three Jim Thorpe Award winners.
“He’s a very nice person, very down to earth guy,” Gonzalez said. “He coached Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Landon Collins. When I found that out I was like, ‘Wow,’ because those are two players I look up to and they’re both safeties. He’s just a very down-to-earth person and he’s cool all the time. I feel like it’s going to be great.”
Peters is listed as a safety, but likely will spend time at cornerback first. No matter where he ends up, he already appreciates the training he knows he’s going to get from Brown.
“I really liked that we got to sit down and actually watch film and work a little bit more on technique and how he’s going to coach us and stuff,” Peters said. “He’s the real deal and he’s a cool guy. We all like him.”
Over the weekend, Peters picked up on how well Brown is fitting in with the current staff and why he ended up on the Plains.
“You can tell Coach (Kevin) Steele likes him a lot because he’s been talking about him and why he picked him and all that. I could tell why he picked him because he reminds me a lot of Coach Steele.”
Leonard isn’t just ready to get on the field under Brown, he’s looking to try to impress the former Mizzou DB coach. He knows the impression he got from Brown is just as important as the one he gave.
“He obviously has a good resume,” Leonard said. “He reminds me of Coach (Scott) Fountain a little bit. They both have high energy. I’m ready to play for him. He’s a guy that you don’t want to let down. He’s always happy. He’s always going into detail about what he wants and want he wants you to be like. I’m ready to play for him and ready to make him proud. I wanted to impress him, and I think I did. The next step is getting me here and impressing him on the field and letting him know how much of a good person I am.”
The three commits will sign next week and then try as patiently as possible to wait to arrive on the Plains. They’ll train, talk through their group chat and continue to grow closer.
“(Auburn) is just a family atmosphere. Everyone here is my family,” Gonzalez said. “I just love everything about it. It’s beautiful here all the time, even when it’s raining. I’m already clicking with my teammates. It’s tradition. It’s everything.”