Seth Williams’ hands wowed Jordan-Hare Stadium with two more spectacular touchdown catches at the A-Day game this spring.
Meanwhile, Anthony Schwartz’s legs were off resting for another track race.
This fall, it’s clear Auburn will turn to all the above — and the rest of the Tigers’ star sophomore class — to lead the team’s wide receivers into 2019.
Williams, Schwartz, Shedrick Jackson and Matthew Hill were all among Auburn’s talented class of 2018 signees who all made an instant impact last season as youngsters in one way or another. This year, Williams and Schwartz are back as Auburn’s two most productive returners, and they’ll mix along with their classmates with veterans like senior Sal Cannella, Auburn’s two warriors back from injury Will Hastings and Eli Stove, and Youngstown State transfer Zach Farrar — plus a few wild cards thrown in the mix as well.
Returners and newcomers
>> Who’s back?: Senior Sal Cannella, senior Will Hastings, junior Marquis McClain, junior Eli Stove, sophomore Shedrick Jackson, sophomore Anthony Schwartz, sophomore Seth Williams, redshirt freshman Matthew Hill, redshirt freshman Harold Joiner.
>> Who’s new?: Junior Zach Farrar, freshman Ja’Varrius Johnson, freshman Jashawn Sheffield.
Williams caught 26 passes for 534 yards and five touchdowns last season, while Schwartz hauled in 22 passes for 357 yards and two scores of his own. As true freshmen last season, they were Auburn’s leading receivers behind the now-departed Darius Slayton and Ryan Davis.
They were two of four touted receiver prospects that joined Auburn in the class of 2018. With them on campus, Auburn added only Ja’Varrius Johnson and Jashawn Sheffield this past time around but also picked up Zach Farrar, once an Oklahoma signee who came to the Plains by way of Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College and Youngstown State. He arrives as a graduate transfer and can play out his two remaining years of eligibility immediately.
Hastings was a top target in 2017 before his knee injury, catching 26 passes for 525 yards and four touchdowns as Auburn’s third-leading receiver. The Tigers hope he and Stove will be back at full speed this fall.
Now for one of those wildcards: Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn has singled out Marquis McClain as one of the Tigers who has taken a big step forward this spring.
“I think he’s starting to take that next step and become a guy that we can really rely on,” Malzahn said of McClain back after an Auburn practice on April 1. “He’s the guy that really stood out to me in the scrimmage from a skill-position standpoint.”
Out in the open in the A-Day game on April 13, McClain caught three passes for 26 yards, while Williams shined catching four passes for 103 yards and two touchdowns. Stove caught four passes for 63 yards and a score.
Stove and Hastings both suffered ACL tears in the spring of 2018 and have been battling in rehabilitation to get back ever since.
“Last year, that was a big blow losing those two guys,” Malzahn said later in the spring. “Having those guys back this year really gives us a shot in the arm.”