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What is the line on Joey Gatewood redshirting?
What is the line on Gatewood redshirting? I’m stoked about seeing him play
— A Bloom (@AURaptor) March 21, 2018
AUBURN, Ala. — Hearing a freshman being compared to Cam Newton piques the interest of most fans, especially at Auburn.
There’s no denying the similarities between the NFL MVP and newcomer Joey Gatewood, even on a first glance. Gatewood is listed as 6-foot-5, 235 pounds. In person, his size is the the first thing someone notices (outside of his hair), but his athleticism and demeanor also stand out.
How much playing time will the St. Augustine, Fla., native see in his first season with the Tigers? Gus Malzahn was asked about sophomore quarterback Malik Willis already having the backup secured job in early March and in his answer the coach said this:
“…You know, I’d say right now Joey is just learning the foundation,” Malzahn said. “So it’s really hard to say, but we have a lot of confidence in Malik.”
Even in his short time on campus, Gatewood has made an impact. He’ll get a chance to shine more in the coming days (Auburn will scrimmage Saturday) and weeks. Furthermore, there’s a good chance Jarrett Stidham won’t play much, if at all, in the A-Day spring game, leaving the stage open for Gatewood to excite fans in Jordan-Hare Stadium. Spring, however, isn’t September.
Even the most talented quarterbacks in college football have to acclimate to college football. In the SEC, where the defensive fronts are the best in the nation, that might be more true. Gatewood has managed to show that his future is bright, and some extra help and guidance from Stdham isn’t a bad thing, either. Malzahn’s only had praise for Gatewood.
“He’s a smart guy,” Malzahn said at Auburn’s pro day. “He’s got all the No. 2 reps, which I think does nothing but help. He’s a competitive guy, too. He’s coachable; when Coach Lindsey has made points he’s carried it over to the practice field. He’s got a very strong arm and obviously we already knew he could run well. But so far, so good. We’ve been impressed with him.”
The truest answer to this question is that it’s hard to say how much fans will see Gatewood this season. The best answer probably is “not much,” barring injury to Stidham or Willis.
In talking with wide receivers coach Kodi Burns last spring, he made an interesting point about Newton. Burns said that it took some time for the Carolina Panthers quarterback to turn into a superstar at Auburn. Even Newton, Burns said, “didn’t know that Cam was going to be Cam” until well into the 2010 season.
The problem for Gatewood is that Stidham solidified the starting job in 2017, and though Malzahn won’t confirm it, Willis likely has a good grip on the backup job.
Gatewood could earn the role of wildcat quarterback. He’s got the potential, but it’s up to him to prove he doesn’t have the mentality of a freshman. He’s going to have to show he can perform in Jordan-Hare like he can in the athletics complex. It’s possible, but for now, fans should be prepared to wait to see the Gatewood they are dreaming of.
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