Why Atlanta DB picked Auburn over South Carolina

Gus Malzahn (Chris O'Meara/AP File)

Gus Malzahn (Chris O’Meara/AP File)

Carlito Gonzalez, a 3-star safety out of Stephenson High School, committed to Auburn this weekend, and it was a decision he tells the AJC he’s been working towards for quite some time.

“I feel good every time I go there,” Gonzalez told the AJC. “I’ve been working hard to receive that offer. We talked about the commitment over there. I have a good relationship with the coaches, and I felt like that was the place to commit to.”

The 6-foot-2, 190-pound safety has had his sights set on Auburn ever since he opened up his recruitment. Gonzalez, who also held offers from South Carolina and Kentucky, has visited Auburn four times, though it wasn’t until his third trip back on July 24 that he finally received the offer from the Tigers.

Before he did, however, Gonzalez says he was seriously considering South Carolina. The Gamecocks were the first to offer him back in February, and Gonzalez says he felt a loyalty to the program. But his affinity for South Carolina faded upon his initial visit.

Carlito Gonzalez (StudentSports)

Carlito Gonzalez (StudentSports)

“South Carolina was close,” Gonzalez said. “I was almost committed to South Carolina last year. But when I visited campus, it wasn’t what I was expecting. My feelings changed.”

The vibes he felt when visiting Auburn, though, were different. While he felt South Carolina was a good football program, Gonzalez says it was hard to look past Auburn’s championship pedigree, citing the program’s recent trip to the 2014 BCS Championship game.

In addition, Gonzalez, the country’s No. 28 safety for 2017, says he’s developed a close bond with both Auburn secondary coach Travaris Robinson and defensive coordinator Will Muschamp. The two coaches, he says, are responsible for his commitment.

“They’re the ones who told (coach Gus Malzahn) that they needed me in their program,” Gonzalez said. “And I thank them for doing that.”

Gonzalez said Auburn told him that they envision him contributing on special teams immediately as a freshman. As for how he’ll fit on defense, Gonzalez says that remains to be seen, though the coaching staff did say they covet his physicality.

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