AUBURN --- Anthony Schwartz doesn’t look back when he’s running.
He hardly has to look on either side.
Auburn football’s resident speedster, carrying all the confidence of a track star, says he knows he’s not getting caught in the open field.
“If they do catch me, they must be fast, too,” he shrugs.
Schwartz showed off that speed last Saturday, on a 57-yard touchdown sprint that’s been awed over and shared across social media — and the impressive part is, as most of those who’ve seen that run around the country don’t know, Schwartz still thinks he can get faster in pads this fall.
Schwartz said he’s running at around 80- to 85-percent of his top speed in pads right now, still adjusting to the football field from track season in the spring, and still finding his groove after a hand injury threw his preseason off course.
He hopes to be even faster week to week, including this Saturday when Auburn hosts Mississippi State at 6 p.m. in Jordan-Hare Stadium.
“I feel like I can go way faster,” Schwartz said Sunday in Auburn as his team turned the page to its first home game in SEC play. “Just near the middle to the end of the run, my legs got heavy, and I feel like, if I was up to full fitness, I probably would’ve looked even faster and ran faster, and maybe the angles wouldn’t have been as close as it was on film.”
That’s a scary thought for opposing defenses.
Schwartz didn’t quite go untouched on the play, which started as a feigned buck sweep to running back JaTarvious Whitlow before Whitlow flipped the ball to Schwartz running the other way, breaking him loose in the open field. Maybe he’d have been more satisfied if he had. A Texas A&M swiped at him as he hit a crease between two of the Aggies, then another flailed at his ankles near the 30-yard line as he cut to the sideline and to the end zone. One more defender’s last grasp at him amounted to little more than a pat on the back as he breezed by.
“I saw one of them out of the corner of my eye, but I know they’re not going to catch me — and if they do, that’s props to them,” Schwartz shrugged simply, going back through the play. “I’m going to keep on running.
“I, like, have tunnel vision to the end zone.”
Schwartz, who sprints for the Tiger track and field team and who competed around the world as a high schooler before arriving at Auburn, is often touted as one of the fastest players in college football.
About that social media stir: The play reached NFL legend Deion Sanders and former Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant, who both took notice.
“This dude from (Auburn) Schwartz can fly! Wow,” Sanders posted to Twitter.
“I like his style of play,” Bryant tweeted.
Schwartz was humbled — but ever confident, said he thinks he could beat even ‘Primetime’ in his prime in a race.
“It’s pretty great,” Schwartz said of their kind words. “Dez is one of my favorite receivers ever, and Prime is one of the best corners ever. Just knowing that some of the greats of the game like my game and like what they see out of me — it just feels awesome.
“It feels like I’m doing right.”
Schwartz had surgery on his left hand in the preseason, and was less of a factor in the first couple of games this season. He wore cast-like protection over his hand in both of Auburn’s first two games, but still suited up. In the third game against Kent State, he sported a smaller wrapping around his hand, but still caught a pass. Last week, for the first time this season, his hand seemed mostly free.
The youngster nicknamed ‘Flash’ rolled up 568 total yards for Auburn last season as a freshman.
So far in his sophomore season, he has three catches for 43 yards to go along with his 57-yard touchdown run last Saturday at Texas A&M.