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Aug 19, 2019
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  Football Preview: Quarterbacks and Wide Receivers

Auburn will have a new look in 2019. Not only will the Tigers sport a new quarterback, but heíll also be a freshman. The only question remaining for Gus Malzahn and Co. is will it be redshirt freshman Joey Gatewood or true freshman Bo Nix.

Malzahn held a wide-open quarterback competition in the spring with Gatewood and Nix being joined primarily by Malik Willis and Cord Sandberg following the departure of Jarrett Stidham after the 2018 season. Post-spring game, Malzahn non-characteristically announced it will be one of the two freshmen leading the offense this fall.

So, what should Auburn fans expect from either quarterback? Excitement, for one.

Gatewood is a big-body dual-threat player listed at 6-foot-5, 233 pounds. He received very limited playing time last year as the third-string QB, playing only in the Music City Bowl, where he rushed for 28 yards. In the A-Day game, with Gatewood sporting an orange non- contact jersey, fans didnít have a chance to see his ground game, but Gatewood did air the ball out. Playing for both the Blue and Orange teams, he threw for a combined 130 yards and two touchdowns on 8 of 12 passing.

Nix was just as impressive in the spring game. The freshman from Pinson Valley was referred to some on Signing Day 2019 as the most highly-touted QB signee in the history of Auburn football, and he showed it in April. Nix, splitting time with both teams, threw for a combined 155 yards and two scores on 11 of 17 passing. He did have an interception. It is also worth noting Nix is the son of Auburn QB legend Patrick Nix.

Malzahn says a starting quarterback will be named before Auburn faces Oregon in the season opener. But while the battle continues into fall practice, there are some familiar names that the starting QB will have as targets.

Seth Williams made a splash as a true freshman in 2018, proving himself as a big-time playmaker. Williams had 524 receiving yards on 26 receptions and five touchdowns last season, averaging an astounding 20.5 yards per catch. In the spring game, he continued his successful ways, catching four passes for 103 yards and two touchdowns.

Eli Stove is another guy Tiger fans will find comfort in having on the field with a new QB. He has made a name for himself as a speedy player who can pick up chunks of yards through the air and on the ground.

Stove is returning from very limited action in 2018 following an ACL injury, but showed during the A-Day game that he is getting back to form. He caught four passes for 63 yards and a score. This is an optimistic sign after Stove rushed for more than 300 yards and had more than 200 receiving yards in 2017.

One of the fun question marks at wideout this fall comes with Matthew Hill. The redshirt freshman became known as a playmaker during the spring game when he caught two passes for 52 yards and a touchdown for the Orange team and added three catches for 76 yards and a score for the Blue team. It wouldnít be assuming too much to expect the former 4-star recruit to contribute in the fall, but the question is how much of a star can this kid be.

There are some guys Tiger fans didnít see in the spring that should have an impact this fall. Will Hastings returns for his senior year after spending 2018 recovering from an ACL injury. Hastings, who is listed as only 5-foot-10, 174 pounds, came onto the scene in 2017 when he had 525 receiving yards and four scores.

Speedster Anthony Schwartz returns as a threat in the passing and rushing games. The world-class sprinter played in all 13 games last year as a true freshman and recorded 357 receiving yards and two touchdowns and 211 yards and five touchdowns on the ground last year. Schwartz is a unique threat for the Tigers that fans should expect Malzahn to continue utilizing.

Several other passing-game threats who could have emerging seasons are wide receivers Sal Cannella and Shedrick Jackson. Freshman tight end Tyler Fromm is also a player that coaches on The Plains are excited to have. The 6-foot-5, 218-pound newcomer was an early-enrollee, so his impact could be immediate for the Tigers.

Brandon Miller

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