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Flanker could be most intriguing position

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Flanker could be Auburn's most intriguin among wide receivers in 2019

By Tom Green | tgreen@al.com | Posted May 11, 2019 at 08:23 AM

7-8 minutes

With spring practice over AL.com is reviewing Auburn's depth chart position by position. The fifh of a 25-part series looks at Auburn's flanker wide receivers. 

Auburn has ample talent in the receiving corps, but the flanker spot could be the most compelling in terms of depth in 2019.

The group will be bolstered by world-class speedster Anthony Schwartz and the full return of Eli Stove from an ACL tear that sidelined him much of last season, while redshirt freshman Matthew Hill was one of the biggest surprises of spring practices. The Tigers certainly have options at the position, and figuring out how to best utilize them will go a long ways toward shaping the offense and putting a first-year starting quarterback in a good situation.

Vasha Hunt/AP Photo

Post-spring depth chart

Anthony Schwartz: 6-foot, 179 pounds, sophomore* OR

Eli Stove: 6-foot, 188 pounds, redshirt junior

Matthew Hill: 6-foot-1, 190 pounds, redshirt freshman

Shedrick Jackson: 6-foot, 198 pounds, sophomore

*did not participate in spring practice

Todd Van Emst/AU Athletics

Gus Malzahn's take

"Eli is a guy that we missed him sorely last year. He’s an NFL-type player, and really worked hard on the intermediate routes and the deep routes. When he gets the ball in his hands, he can really do some things."

Vasha Hunt/AP Photo

Starter

Anthony Schwartz and Eli Stove will vie for the starting job at flanker as the Tigers aim to replace the program's career receptions leader, Ryan Davis. Schwartz is coming off a breakout freshman campaign, when the world-class sprinter had 22 receptions for 357 yards and two touchdowns to go with 27 carries for 211 yards and five scores.

Schwartz has the ability to be Auburn's most explosive offensive weapon, and the Tigers will try to use him in various ways (as evidenced by last season), getting him the ball deep downfield, on quick routes and jet sweeps.

The sophomore did not participate in spring practices, as he focused on running track (where he has Olympic aspirations). On Saturday he will compete in the 100-meter finals at the SEC championship meet. When he finishes track season, however, he'll pick right up with the football team and be an integral part of the Tigers' offense this fall.

Todd Van Emst/AU Athletics

Eli Stove is the other starting option for Auburn at flanker as the redshirt junior is finally fully recovered from a torn ACL he sustained last spring. While Stove appeared in four games last season after being cleared to return, he utilized the NCAA's new redshirt rule to preserve the year of eligibility.

This spring, Stove looked more like the player he was in 2016 and 2017 -- the type that, like Schwartz, could be dangerous both as a receiver and in the rushing game on jet sweeps. He had four catches for 63 yards and a touchdown on A-Day, and while he wasn't ready to say he is 100 percent back to his old self, reincorporating a healthy Stove back into the receiving corps will make the unit more dynamic and help soften the loss of Davis.

Todd Van Emst/AU Athletics

What we wrote about Eli Stove this spring

Josh Bean/jbean@al.com

Backup

Perhaps the breakthrough star of spring, redshirt freshman Matthew Hill showed why he was so highly touted coming out of high school, when he was a top-100 prospect nationally. The 6-foot-1 Hill further developed his skillset while largely watching from the sidelines last season (he appeared in four games without recording a catch and carrying the ball twice for 21 yards). 

This spring, however, he broke out and was one of the most talked-about offensive players, drawing comparisons to recently departed receiver Ryan Davis with his ability to make plays after the catch. That all culminated on A-Day, when Hill totaled five receptions for 128 yards and a pair of touchdowns, leading all receivers in both receptions and yards for the day and tying with Seth Williams in touchdowns.

Todd Van Emst/AU Athletics

What we wrote about Matthew Hill this spring

Julie Bennett/AL.com

Next wave

Sophomore Shedrick Jackson is the next up at flanker after appearing in 11 games as a freshman in 2018. Jackson only had two receptions for 15 yards last season and he did not record a catch on A-Day, but his physicality and willingness as a blocker -- something Gus Malzahn and receivers coach Kodi Burns covet -- will ensure he sees the field again this fall in some capacity.

Todd Van Emst/AU Athletics

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