Welcome to SEC Country’s daily Auburn Tigers football recruiting notebook with Auburn recruiting beat writer Benjamin Wolk. It’s Wednesday, and SEC Country spoke with Auburn quarterback commit Joey Gatewood about all things football and recruiting.
Auburn commit Joey Gatewood silences critics
Joey Gatewood came into the 2017 season with a point to prove.
The Auburn quarterback commit had some doubters out there. He heard the critics.
You’re not a quarterback. You could probably be an NFL caliber tight end. You can’t play college quarterback if you split snaps in high school.
Gatewood even took a dip in recruiting rankings because talent evaluators had trouble measuring a guy who split time at quarterback, but also spent time returning kicks and playing wide receiver. Should he be considered a quarterback or an athlete? Gatewood knew it was time to silence all of that with the start of the 2017 season.
In the early goings of the Bartram Trail (Fla.) calendar, he’s done just that.
“I felt like I’ve definitely started off strong,” Gatewood told SEC Country. “It’s really just the beginning.”
Gatewood’s stats tell the story.
Through three games, he has completed 33 of 47 passes for a completion percentage above 70 percent. Gatewood has thrown for 506 yards, 4 touchdowns and zero interceptions. While flashing his arm talent, he’s still a force to be reckoned with as a runner. He’s accumulated 275 yards rushing and 3 touchdowns on 39 rushing attempts. That’s 7.1 yards per carry.
Perhaps the most compelling part of it all is that he’s still sharing possessions in high school. So he’s put up those numbers in three games, but it really can be considered more like a game and a half, which makes Gatewood’s numbers so far seem nearly impossible against the highest level of competition in Florida (and Cartersville, one of the best teams in Georgia).
Gatewood’s improvements as a passer have made him an even greater threat as a runner.
“Definitely my passing improved. I have a lot of people pushing me, people saying I’m not a quarterback. I just really wanted to prove that. As my stats stand right now, I think it really shows,” Gatewood said. “I was working with a QB coach down here, but I would work any chance I could get really. It’s just the little things. Elite 11 helped me a lot. All those things. It was just something I needed to do. … It played a big role. You know, I love when people doubt me. It just pushes me.”
Gatewood spoke with Lindsey last Thursday. The two were just catching up, “nothing special,” as Gatewood describes it. But the Auburn offensive coordinator might be one of the most impressed by the quarterback commit’s early season performance.
It has given the Tigers some reason to relax.
“It’s really nothing special or different. There’s some stuff I can’t say, but it’s just my coach. He’s just talking to me. He has questions for me. It’s like talking to my coach,” he said. “He’s really proud. He’s really proud of how I handle myself and how I’m playing and how I’m dealing with my team.”
The status of Auburn’s quarterback position
Auburn’s quarterback position has taken a hit throughout the spring, summer and fall.
Tyler Queen transferred. Woody Barrett left. John Franklin III followed Lane Kiffin (as a wide receiver). Sean White was dismissed. When that last piece of news dropped earlier this week, Gatewood caught wind of it quickly. White was someone he spent time with on visits and got to know, so it came as a surprise.
Gatewood offered his well-wishes for White.
“I was just like, ‘Wow.’ He was always such a good dude, a good player. I wish him the best,” Gatewood said.
But for an incoming freshman, that eliminates another possible person standing in Gatewood’s way.
What was once a crowded depth chart — in terms of numbers more than talent — has dwindled to two. And as I pointed out Tuesday, that means something for the state of Auburn quarterback recruiting. Gatewood, on the other hand, says he’s unaffected by it all. He doesn’t know if Auburn’s going to end up with two quarterback in this class, and that isn’t a major concern of his.
White’s dismissal creates much more need for Gatewood on the depth chart immediately, simply for security sake.
Gatewood will approach the situation all the same.
“Honestly it really doesn’t mean that much to me because I’d be working just as hard if it was seven scholarship quarterbacks,” Gatewood said. “It don’t really mean nothing to me. I’m looking to come there and play, but that really has nothing to do with it.”
A few other Gatewood-related notes
Gatewood will make his first visit for the 2017 season for the Ole Miss game on Oct. 7.
It will be an unofficial visit, but expect that to be a big recruiting weekend for Auburn since Gatewood has proven to be one of the best recruiters in the Tigers’ 2018 class. He’ll make that visit with one of his Bartram Trail coaches. With Gatewood’s confirmation, I think you can safely assume 4-star wide receiver target Justyn Ross will be in attendance, as well. Gatewood and Ross are close, even though it seems like Ross is leaning toward Clemson.
Gatewood won’t take his official visit, most likely, until December. He’ll enroll at Auburn in January.
He’s still trying to finalize when Auburn coaches will come down to see him play. Gatewood expects it to be Oct. 27 in Gainseville, Fla., based on what he’s talked with Lindsey about, but he said he needs to follow up with Gus Malzahn to confirm that.
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