Prior to the 2019 college football season, Auburn Tigers head coach Gus Malzahn had an important decision to make. There was no real correct answer at the time, but he was forced to choose between true freshman Bo Nix and redshirt freshman Joey Gatewood as the team’s starting quarterback. The entire situation was drama free, but things have suddenly changed.
Despite SEC losses to Florida and LSU this month, it appeared Malzahn was going to keep playing Nix. So as the Tigers prepare to host Ole Miss this weekend, they will do so without Gatewood.
After reports surfaced that Gatewood was leaving, the head coach confirmed his backup quarterback decided to exit the Auburn football program and enter the NCAA Transfer Portal.
Gatewood, a former four-star recruit by 247Sports from Jacksonville, Florida, was clearly not all about being Nix’s backup on the depth chart. The dual-threat signal caller was used primarily as the team’s wildcat quarterback this season, completing 5 of 7 passes for 54 yards and two touchdowns and no interceptions while rushing 29 times for 148 yards and three more scores.
Malzahn confirmed Gatewood’s departure during the SEC coaches teleconference, via AL.com.
“I really appreciated Joey. When you think about it, when he didn’t win the job earlier, he chose to stick around. Most quarterbacks this day and time wouldn’t do that. He’s just at a point now where he wants to be a starting quarterback and just feels he needs to start looking for schools now so he can find the right spot, and I respect that.
“He’s a fine young man, and I really appreciate everything Joey has done for our program. Everyone in our program will be rooting for him moving forward.”Advertisement
Then, on October 31, Gatewood wrote a touching goodbye letter.
“I would like to thank Auburn University, the Auburn family, coaching staff and my teammates.
“Throughout this process I’ve experienced highs and lows, trials and tribulations. I’ve been committed to Auburn since December 5, 2015 and never wavered.
“I take pride in how I handled every situation and am confident in myself and my God given ability. I wouldn’t take back any part of my journey to this point.
“However, it is in the best interest of myself and my family to move forward. I wish my teammates the best moving forward this season.
With Auburn backup quarterback Joey Gatewood leaving, the Tigers only have senior Wil Appleton, redshirt Cord Sandberg, and true freshman Trey Lindsey for the backup QB role in Alabama.
There’s no doubt Gatewood, a former high school star athlete, will find a new home soon and earn a starting job. It’s just always tough to see a quality player leave a program, even if the position is in good hands for the future.