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Auburn Football Recruiting: Auburn Commits Shine In Season Openers

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Joey Gatewood
Student Sports

This past weekend, high school football seasons kicked off nationwide. Quite a few Auburn commitments started their seasons off with a loud bang, none more visible than 4* QB Joey Gatewood.

If you stayed up late last Saturday night, then you got quite the treat watching Gatewood’s Bartram Trail team lose a wild battle with 5* QB Trevor Lawrence’s Cartersville team. What early on looked like a blowout became a contest after a furious Bartram Trail rally spurred on by Auburn’s longest committed player in the 2018 class, Joey Gatewood. Despite rotating every other series with 3* Riley Smith, Gatewood carried the ball 20 times for 135 yds and 2 TDs while also completing 11 passes on 14 attempts for 191 yds and another TD. That’s 326 total yards and 3 total TDs while only playing half the offensive series. Not bad at all.

Gatewood’s calling card has always been his athleticism. That was very much on display Saturday night. At 6’4” 232 lbs, Gatewood looks like a giant at the quarterback spot but what’s really scary is how quickly this dude moves at that size. Just watch his highlight run that helped setup the first TD of the day for the Bears.

Remind you of anyone?

The biggest knock on Gatewood has always been his ability as a passer. He’s been about as raw as you can be for a top prospect due to the fact that he’s gotten so little snaps at the QB position. However, over this offseason he’s focused solely on QB, working with personal QB coaches and spent time with some of the best in the country at the Elite 11 competition. Saturday night, that progress really showed as for the first time I felt like I was watching a prospect that is truly a QB and not an athlete trying to be a QB. Throws like this get you excited about his potential.

There’s still work to be done for sure. He sometimes looks a bit clumsy in the pocket and I think looks to run a little too quickly but the potential is there clear as day. He’s a guy that I believe might have the highest ceiling of any QB prospect in this class and that includes Lawrence and 5* Justin Fields. There just aren’t many dudes his size that can run like he can while also possessing the raw tools as a passer. If given time and coaching, I truly believe this kid can be a star for Auburn. But above all else, I don’t think anyone can really deny this kid can play quarterback at the next level.

Gatewood wasn’t the only Auburn commit though to have an outstanding debut. Auburn’s newest commit, 4* RB Asa Martin, announced his return to Alabama High School football with a 41 yd TD run on his first carry. The talented back out of Decatur, AL compiled 157 yds on only 10 carries and 3 TDs. He also had a catch for 12 yards in a 47-7 beatdown of Walker. If you get a chance, I highly recommend checking out Martin’s highlights from week 1. He flashed a little of everything from running tough inside the tackles, to catching passes from the slot, to outracing defenders to the endzone. I expect Martin to put up some monster numbers this season.

One of the biggest matchups last weekend was between two 2016 7A state champions. The Hoover Bucs traveled to Logansville, GA to take on the Grayson Rams. Many thought the Rams would win this somewhat easily due to sheer volume of D1 prospects on that team. However, they ran into a much tougher test than expected and only pulled away late in a 35-26 win. A big reason why this game was so close was Grayson’s struggles to contain Auburn’s two wide receiver commits 3* Shedrick Jackson and 4* George Pickens. Jackson hauled in 5 catches for a whopping 150 yds while Pickens snagged 6 receptions for 96 yds. That’s 11 catches for 246 yds between the AU commits.

Jackson flashed a little of everything from beating man-to-man coverages over the top to finding empty spots in the zone. His biggest play of the day was a 51 yd grab in triple coverage. I believe that is FSU commit 3* Kenyatta Watson at CB he beats on the play.

Pickens, on the other hand, relied more on his great size and physicality to beat defenders to the ball and to pick up yards after the catch. This dude has some scary potential as only a junior but already at 6’5” 190 lbs. His biggest moment of the night was converting on 4th and long by hauling in a high pass and then breaking some tackles to setup an important Hoover TD.

Finally, I wanted to highlight a guy that is quickly becoming one of my favorite players in this class, 3* S Jamien Sherwood. This kid is an old school type of football player. He does almost everything for his high school team from catching passes at WR, taking carries as a RB, filling running lanes as a LB, picking passes off as a S and even making plays as a punt returner. He did most of his damage as a running back this past weekend racking up 131 yds on 13 carries and scoring 2 TDs. He also made a handful of tackles as well on defense. Check out his highlights, you can’t help but fall in love with how this kid plays.

Here’s the stats for the rest of Auburn’s commits. Most of these I chased down but some come from Benjamin Wolk’s excellent recap:

Georgia Southern Visitor List

Let’s take a moment to celebrate the fact that Auburn football returns in just two sweet days....

This Saturday, not only will Auburn fans get a chance to see what this 2017 Auburn football team looks like but top prospects will as well. Georgia Southern isn’t the sexiest of matchups (sorry Walt) so I don’t expect it to be a super loaded weekend. However, there does appear to be some big time targets coming to visit. I will just say if a kid passes up the opportunity to go to Alabama/Florida State to instead visit to see Auburn/Georgia Southern then that kid clearly has some big time interest in Auburn. So with that in mind, here’s who have been reported to visit this weekend courtesy of 247, SECCountry and Rivals:

Getting Trey Hill on campus this weekend would be huge. Especially since Florida State is thought to be one of the biggest threats to land the talented offensive guard outside of Georgia. I believe he’s visited Auburn more than any other school and it’s hard to not start feeling like Auburn is picking up some momentum in his recruitment.

It will also be big news if Auburn can get instate targets Miller and Williams on campus. Both are guys that Alabama would love to have as well so seeing them on the Plains instead of in Atlanta for the “Game of the Year” is a huge positive sign for where Auburn stands in their recruitments.

I highly doubt Auburn picks up any commitments this weekend but if they did the guy to watch would be Jibunor. He originally wanted to commit before the season but is waiting until he can visit a few other schools, Florida specifically, before making his final decision. Still, Auburn has been working on this kid hard and a great visit might get him to finally jump on board. Either way, always good to get guys back on campus.

Don’t be surprised if more names end up on that list, specifically AU commits. I am interested to see if 4* S Quindarious Monday can make the trip as Clemson continues to pursue the AU commit very hard. I still feel like he ends up wearing orange and blue but a slow start by Auburn could cause him to rethink his decision. That’s honestly true for many Auburn commits. The Tigers have a chance to put together one of Gus Malzahn’s highest rated classes but many of these top prospects are going to need to see something to believe in on the field first. That starts this Saturday. War Eagle!