Welcome to SEC Country’s daily Auburn football recruiting notebook with Auburn recruiting beat writer Benjamin Wolk. Today, we assess the first visit of track-star wide receiver Anthony Schwartz and break down the nature of Joey Gatewood‘s quarterback situation in high school.
WR who ran 10.15 100-meter enjoys first Auburn visit
AUBURN, Ala. — Anthony Schwartz’s recruitment has been on a fast track in 2017.
The 6-foot wide receiver from American Heritage (Fla.) entered the year with a Rutgers offer. He’s since picked 20 other big-time Power 5 offers, including Florida, Miami, Auburn, Georgia and LSU. Schwartz is a 3-star wide receiver who ranks 72nd at the position in the class.
But college coaches like him for something else: His world-class speed.
Take pregame of Auburn’s A-Day, for example. First it was Travis Williams who walked over to make a comment about Schwartz’s lightning-fast 100-meter dash. Then Gus Malzahn, Kodi Burns and Jarrett Stidham all wandered over to make some form of comment about Schwartz’s elite, straight-line speed. Later in the day, Auburn tight ends coach Larry Porter pointed out a Corvette driving around Auburn and asked if he could beat it in a race.
For those unaware, Schwartz recently ran a 10.15-second 100-meter dash. He hopes to get down to the “10.0s” by the end of his junior track season. The 10.15 display broke the nine-year high school record set by former Florida running back Jeff Demps.
Auburn was quick to get Schwartz on campus following that 10.15 performance on March 31. Schwartz was equally eager to get up to the Plains for A-Day, and then venture over to Athens, Ga., for an unofficial visit to Georgia.
The Tigers impressed on visit No. 1.
“It really changed my opinion on Auburn. I always liked it, but now I feel like it’s somewhere I can play,” Schwartz said. “It was great. The spring game atmosphere was great with 50,000 fans. I spent the whole day here pretty much, just talking to all the coaches. I just liked the facilities. I went on a little tour.”
Schwartz didn’t know entirely what to expect from Auburn.
He’s heard murmurs from other recruits about what to expect. Before the visit, he commonly heard the word “different” about Auburn and wanted to find out what that meant for himself. Schwartz experienced that first hand around campus and Auburn, as he hung out with fellow south Florida boy John Franklin III during his visit.
“I was looking forward to how the school is. People like to say Auburn’s different from urban places, like Miami. It feels great,” Schwartz said. “We’re all secluded. I thought it would be just a small school, not a lot of people. I didn’t think there would be that much people for a spring game. I was with a few of the receivers. Everyone came up to them and knew all of them. They feel like celebrities out here.”
More importantly, Schwartz wanted to see the new-look Auburn offense.
He’d heard about Chip Lindsey’s downfield plans. He’d been told Jarrett Stidham’s big arm would alter the nature of Auburn’s passing game. Schwartz came away from the spring game impressed by what the Tigers are going to do on the offensive side under a new offensive coordinator.
“I feel like they have a great offense, started to pass a lot more,” Schwartz said. “Usually they were a run team the past couple years. This year, a lot of deep passes, a lot of stuff I think I would fit in with.”
The visit also allowed Schwartz to hang out more with Kodi Burns who he was with until his late Sunday afternoon departure.
“I feel like we have a good relationship now, especially since this was my first time actually meeting him,” Schwartz said. “I definitely got to relate to him. We’re both kinda chill, laid-back.”
Schwartz hopes to make his college decision by the end of the summer. He wants to return to Auburn — in June if he can. A big deciding factor for Schwartz: Will college programs let him run track? He’s on the verge of Olympic trial times, so the ability to compete in track in college will be critical for him being able to fulfill non-football life goals.
Auburn said there won’t be a problem there, and that — along with the visit — has the Tigers in good shape.
“I’d put them near the top,” Schwartz said, naming Florida, Miami, LSU and Georgia as Auburn’s main competition.
Understanding Joey Gatewood’s HS quarterback situation
I’ve heard a lot about his from readers, so I wanted to dedicate the second half of this notebook to give everyone a better understanding of Joey Gatewood’s quarterback situation at Bartram Trail High in Jacksonville, Fla.
The reason I bring this up: Gatewood was asked on Saturday about his future at the quarterback position in high school. Will his coaches spread him around the field as a wide receiver, running back and elsewhere in 2017?
Gatewood’s answer was simple.
“I’ll be back at QB only,” he said.
That’s the goal, but it’s more complicated than that.
Last season, Gatewood had two other impressive high school quarterbacks on his high school team: Jordan Smith and Riley Smith. Jordan Smith was the senior, so he was given priority at times. He ended up committing to Gardner-Webb.
Now it’s just Gatewood and Riley Smith. Gatewood is the bigger playmaker and athlete of the two, but Smith is a stud in his own right.
For some perspective, his last three unofficial visits have been to Harvard, Yale and Princeton. But Smith isn’t just a cerebral guy. He looks the part. At 6-foot-4 and 200 pounds, Smith often looks like the most physically impressive quarterback at camps. When I went to an Orlando Under Armour camp in February, Smith stood out more than any quarterback — and, oh yeah, Gatewood was there.
That’s not a knock on Gatewood who is developing well as a quarterback and can make plays that few other high school prospects can make. It’s just a testament to the tricky quarterback competition at Bartram Trail.
Even trickier, Smith is likely to pick up a little more college interest in the upcoming evaluation period. The Ivy League schools want him for his brain, but FBS-level programs — Central Michigan, Troy and Western Michigan have offered — are likely to show more interest in the coming weeks.
I’ve spoken with people close to both Gatewood and Smith. Most parties have admitted that it’s going to be tough for both to stay at Bartram Trail next season. For Gatewood, Smith’s presence could stunt his QB development. For Smith, Gatewood’s presence can take away from the exposure he needs and deserves from college coaches.
In short, Gatewood probably is right that he’ll only be a quarterback in 2017, but it’s going to likely take some school shifting from either him or Smith, and that’s not always logistically feasible.
But to get something important out of the way: Gatewood hasn’t been a backup quarterback because of his own personal skill set.
He’s been with two other college-level quarterbacks who also deserve to play the position and get their chance at college exposure. It doesn’t hurt that a high school coach knows he can stretch Gatewood out wide and have one of the best weapons on the high school stage stay on the field.
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