Few quarterbacks from Gwinnett County have received the kind of recruiting interest that C.J. Uzomah has experienced over the past year, earning the North Gwinnett senior plenty of early offers from some of the nation’s top college football programs.
He ended that recruitment Saturday, committing to an Auburn program that unlike several of his other favorites, wants him to play tight end/H-back, not quarterback. A four-star prospect by Scout.com, he chose the Tigers over LSU, but also had offers from Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Tennessee and South Carolina.
He has made multiple visits to Auburn — he guessed five to seven times — and said he developed great relationships with the coaches.
“I’ve liked Auburn for awhile,” Uzomah said. “I just wanted to make sure that it was the place for me. I don’t plan on de-committing, so I wanted to make sure my commitment was firm when I made it. I just wanted to make sure I found a place where I would be comfortable for the next three to four years and where I wouldn’t look back and question my decision. I just knew Auburn was the place for me.”
Uzomah has played just one high school season at quarterback, an impressive junior season when North went 12-1 and won its first Region 7-AAAAA championship. He completed 153 of 257 passes for 1,723 yards and 14 touchdowns, and also rushed for 709 yards and 10 more scores.
The Bulldogs will rely on the 6-foot-5, 235-pounder at the quarterback position again this season, but showed why Auburn likes him at another position back when he was a sophomore.
North had Mikey Tamburo, a Boise State signee and one of the most prolific passers in Gwinnett history, at quarterback in 2008, so Uzomah made his first varsity impact as a sophomore at wide receiver. He had 13 catches for 294 yards and five TDs that season.
Despite that experience, he is still very raw as a receiver, a position he hasn’t played much during his football career.
“It will be a little different for me playing receiver,” Uzomah said. “I haven’t played it a lot, but Coach Troop (Trooper Taylor) is a great receivers coach — all of the coaches are great — and I think they can work with me on my receiving skills and help me become a good receiver.”
Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn, known as an innovator at his previous stops at Arkansas and Tulsa, could also take advantage of Uzomah’s passing skills.
“I think they’ll use him as an athlete,” North head coach Bob Sphire said. “Coach Malzahn is very creative with that. I’m sure they’ll create a Wildcat package for him. Gus is good about involving his best athletes in the offense.”
Uzomah and his family did plenty of work during the recruiting process, scouring campuses, academic offering and football programs in an attempt to find the right place. That long journey finally came to an end Saturday, though his future won’t officially be secure until he signs a letter of intent next February.
“I’m tickled to death for him,” Sphire said. “He went through a very lengthy process the last year and a half and he had so many options. He took his time and was very patient to make sure he made the right decision.”