Joey Gatewood, Justyn Ross share ‘important’ recruiting connection between quarterback, receiver
AUBURN, Ala. — A-Day provided a welcome glimpse into the future for Auburn’s passing game.
Jarrett Stidham shined with his deep ball and efficiency in his first public Jordan-Hare Stadium appearance. True freshman Malik Willis impressed with his tight-throw accuracy and scrambling ability. Chip Lindsey’s new offense gave off a more quarterback and receiver friendly vibe.
Everyone noticed it — especially Auburn’s offensive recruits.
Auburn quarterback commit Joey Gatewood mentioned the spread-the-wealth passing game immediately after his visit. He said it put to rest any lingering doubts that, for the most part, never existed in the first place, which allows him to re-structure his focus in the 2018 recruiting cycle.
Instead of taking more visits and talking to more coaches, Gatewood has assumed the role of lead recruiter. It’s a growing trend in college recruiting, as each class tends to find the vocal leader to build around. For Auburn, last year’s version was Malcolm Askew.
Gatewood officially has taken on that responsibility in 2018 through various in-person and Twitter efforts.
“I was doing a lot (of recruiting). I’m trying to get the class right,” Gatewood said of his A-Day experience.
Want a better idea of Auburn’s offensive recruiting priorities? Just look at who Gatewood cornered during his weekend visit: WR Justyn Ross and RB Asa Martin.
Most of Gatewood’s time was spent with Auburn’s No. 1 targets at the wide receiver and running back position. Ross and Martin are top targets at multiple programs across the southeast and aren’t guarantees to land with the Tigers, but Gatewood is doing his part to secure them.
The Gatewood-Ross connection served as a symbolic bond on A-Day, as Auburn’s passing game opened up tremendously from previous years.
“It’s really important. You’ve got to have a good bond with your quarterback for y’all to play good. It stood out to me,” Ross said of Gatewood’s efforts. “He just says that he wants me here with him, that he wants a long wideout.”
Gatewood and Ross weren’t just weekend visit buddies.
They’ve developed a strong relationship dating back much earlier in the recruiting cycle. In Gatewood’s two most recent trips to the Plains, Ross has been there. The tandem played alongside one another at the Under Armour All-America Future 50 camp in December (both will play in the UA game in January).
Plus, Gatewood finds time to recruit Ross away from standard recruiting events.
“I talk to him weekly, almost daily. Like I say every time I’m here, I’m going to make him my receiver. … I’m confident, but we’ll see,” Gatewood said. “He’s going to be my wide receiver. I’m confident about it. I’m very confident.”
Ross laughed it off when asked why Gatewood seems so sure.
“I can’t say. You’ll have to talk to him about that. I don’t know,” Ross said with a smile.
Gatewood’s answer to that high-level confidence?
“You’ll see,” Gatewood said. “He already knows everything about Auburn. I’m just informing him that he can come with with me. I’m the quarterback. I want you to be my wide receiver. Just come join me.”