Austin Gatewood knows a thing or two about helping start a football program from scratch. His first year of varsity competition at East Hamilton High was only that program's second season in existence and now the three-year starter will help lay the groundwork for East Tennessee State University's fledgling program.
Gatewood, an all-state linebacker, committed to the Buccaneers on Wednesday, saying he has cancelled all other planned recruiting trips.
"I've been up there a couple of times on my own and had an awesome experience every time," Gatewood said. "I love the atmosphere and I think it'll be cool to lay the foundation for a new program. I know it will be a lot of work, but it's also exciting."
ETSU will renew its football program in 2015. The school discontinued football following the 2003 season, but last spring the university's administration voted to bring back the sport as a member of the Southern Conference. This year will be the Buccaneers' first signing class, with veteran college coach Carl Torbush as their head coach. Torbush previously coached at North Carolina and Louisiana Tech and has been an assistant at Alabama, Ole Miss, Mississippi Sate, Texas A&M, Kansas and North Carolina.
Gatewood, a three-year starter, led the Hurricanes with 127 total tackles, 24 for loss and also had nine sacks last season. He is the second area player to commit to the Bucs, joining South Pittsburg linebacker Kahlil Mitchell.
"I think it's a great fit for him," said East Hamilton coach, and Austin's father, Ted Gatewood. "It's a real good situation because he can go up there and have a year to learn the system and get stronger and be ready once they start playing games next year."
Contact Stephen Hargis at email@example.com or 423-757-6293.
Stephen has covered local sports in the tri-state area for more than 24 years, having been with the Times Free Press since its inception, and has been an assistant sports editor since 2005. Stephen is among the most decorated writers in the TFP’s newsroom, winning numerous state, regional and national writing awards, including seven in 2013 and a combined 12 in the last two years. He was named one of the top 10 sports writers ...