Versatile Prospect Says Tigers Are His Favorite

This high school football player who was on the AU campus recently to check out the Tigers discusses his substantial interest in Auburn.

Lilburn, Ga.--Stephen Gowland is a talented prospect who has fallen through the cracks for almost all of the top programs throughout the Southeast due to the unusually large number of tight end prospects that have flooded the recruiting market this year, especially in the southern part of the country.

With no big-time SEC or ACC offers on the table heading into the final two weeks of the recruiting season, what could be some colleges lost opportunity could quickly turn into a huge gain for the Auburn recruiting class with the addition of a very talented walk-on.

"Auburn has had an incredible year and everybody wants to get a part of that program," Gowland says. "You know, that has always been the school that I have always dreamed about playing at and everything and it doesn't look like the scholarship is going to happen there, but I took an unofficial there this weekend and sat down with Coach (Greg) Knox and everything.

"He knows that I will be able to make it, but it is just financially that I have to worry and get this out of state cost taken care of and see if I can't earn a scholarship there," he continues. "So, it is definitely where I want to playmy parents and see if we can work out the , but I just have to really sit down with financial aspects because I think after a year or two that I would be able to impress the coaches enough to earn a scholarship."

The tight end says that he would make the decision to walk on at Auburn right now if he knew he could earn a scholarship following his freshman season. "Oh definitely, there is no other environment that I have felt like Auburn," he explains. "My mom commented on the family feel that she felt when she went there and it is just a great place."

At 6-4, 223 with speed in the 4.7 range and athleticism to spare, Gowland is a player who could play a number of positions at the college level. He got the chance to show some of that versatility during his senior season at Parkview High when he started on the defensive line for the first time while also playing tight end.

"On offense I didn't have the greatest stats because I was playing both ways, but I think I had 13 catches for about 220 yards and three touchdowns," the senior says. "Then, on defense I had 130-140 something tackles, about 15 for a loss and I think two sacks and three forced fumbles and three recovered fumbles, something in that area."

He adds that he felt like he made the transition to the defensive line very smoothly. "I just kind of let my athleticism take over," Gowland explains about playing on defense.

"It is all football, you know. It is not like it is learning a new game. It is learning a new mentality. The defensive side of the ball is a new mentality, but our offseason conditioning program is excellent and coach got me ready to play every week and I just go out there and let my athleticism take over. All of the film work and stuff like that that we do just makes it easy."

Stephen Gowland

The Parkview standout also says that after playing on both offense and defense as a senior that he does not have any preference for where he plays on the college level. "I just want to go to a place that I can get on the field and play whether it be on offense or defense," he notes. "I might be too skinny to play defensive end so I have had some people maybe think I could be like a sam linebacker, who can get into coverages.

"I am athletic enough to do that I think," the two-way player continues. "I have also had people say, maybe, fullback because in a couple of formations in our offense I got to lineup at fullback and I had a good couple of flatbacks on some linebackers that are supposed to be pretty good. I can play wherever."

Gowland says that along with having fun getting to learn a new position he also enjoyed his whole final season at Parkview, even though things did not finish exactly as his team had planned. "As a team we did real well," he explains. "We finished three points short of our goal. We went 13-2 and were runners-up in the state. We lost in the state championship 17-14. We had a few chances, but we had a few costly turnovers. We had three turnovers and you can't win with those."

Gowland says that most of his recruiting action has come from programs that are not as high-profile as Auburn's. "There are some smaller schools that have been contacting me like Georgia Southern," he notes. "They really want me to take a visit down there. Also Florida Atlantic, they use their tight end real well. My coach said that the tight end would always have about 50 catches a year in that kind of offense and they just moved up to division I-A so they are a program on the rise I guess. Those are a couple of the schools and Troy just called me.

"I haven't taken any official visits yet," he adds. "I am actually deciding where I am going to go because my family is actually going to go out of town this weekend, but the 28th I am trying to decide."

Even with only one official visit in his future, Gowland says that he may be able to make a final decision before national signing day. "If I can make a decision Coach Knox said he might be able to get me something to sign to commit to being with the program or something like that if that is the best option I feel at the time and we will be able to handle it financially," he explains.

With his senior season on the gridiron in the books, the talented athlete says that he is playing some church league basketball, hitting the weights very hard as usual and is also about to start his second season on the Parkview track team.

"I do the 300 hurdles as well as a couple of relays and I also throw the shot and discuss," he says about his role on the team. "I really went out last year just expecting to throw because one of my friends that goes to Brookwood is taking a track scholarship. He talked about how fun it is and I saw him at a couple of meets.

"Then, my track coach actually signed me up to do hurdles and I was like, 'Ugh, you have got to be kidding me,' but my time is in the low forties," he adds. "It has been a while since I have even thought about time there, but the guys that qualified for state were running in the high thirties and I got down to the low forties.

"Last year was my rookie season in track, I wasn't the all-star yet." he continues laughingly. "I actually placed at county in shot put. I think I threw about 43 or 44 feet. In discuss I threw about 120. So, maybe I can actually place high in the county this year."

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