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Travis Williams, Kodi Burns putting their stamp on Auburn
March 29, 2016

Travis Williams is coaching up Auburn linebackers this spring
Travis Williams is coaching up Auburn linebackers this spring

By Charles Goldberg

AUBURN, Ala. They're still young, they're Auburn guys and they're in their first year as full-time assistant coaches at the school where they played.

And one of the best parts in being back, say Travis Williams and Kodi Burns, is they are being allowed to put their stamp on the guys they now coach.  

Williams, the linebackers coach, and Burns, the receivers coach, saw that on the first day of spring practice.

Williams remembers walking on the field for the start of spring work, and how defensive coordinator Kevin Steele let him do his job.

"It was a dream come true, and it was my group," he said. "Coach Steele doesn’t bother me, and he is the linebacker guy. He trusts me with the linebackers and I run my own meetings and I run my own drills. That’s the thing that is really good.

"We’ve had plenty of conversations and he tells me I’m doing a good job. My first day out there I’m like ‘wow, I’m the linebacker coach’. You almost have to pinch yourself. It’s almost surreal."

Williams was an All-SEC linebacker during his playing days. Burns arrived as a touted quarterback before changing positions to become a receiver and a fan favorite. Williams, Burns and defensive line coach Rodney Garner all played at Auburn before becoming assistant coaches for their school.

"This is home to me. Auburn is what I am," Burns said. "A lot of people work their whole career to get back to a place like this. I've been fortunate to be back here. I'm just ready to get to work. I'm excited about the season."

Burns said having three former players on the staff is "very significant."

"What Coach Malzahn has done is he's hired guys that have played here, and have put their blood, sweat and tears in this school and on that field. I think it helps not only with our players, but also with recruiting," Burns said. "I'm talking about a school because I played there. I am Auburn. I believe in everything I say about the school. I believe it, and really believe from the heart. So when I'm recruiting, when I'm coaching my players, I'm very passionate about it."

Burns talked of his happy return to Auburn a month ago in this story. Williams talked of his return to Auburn in this story.

A month later, Williams still says "words can't even explain just the feeling every day going into the office. I don't have a bad day. You can't catch me without a smile on my face. In the same breath I understand the responsibility and expectations. Coming to work every day it gives you a goal because a lot of people are depending on you to get this thing right."

Williams says his expectations of his first months on the job have "been everything and more."

"I'm just happy the players are responding and wanting to take coaching and have a different pep in their step. They are doing exactly what we ask them to do and that’s always encouraging," Williams said.

"I told them in this room we're going to be a group of overachievers, and that's OK."

Burns has a relatively young receiving corps headed by Marcus Davis. Burns is good with that.

"I think it's really good that they're young because I get to mold them the way I want to," Burns said. "They don't know any better. They're a blank canvas that I can kind of build up. I'm excited to work with these guys and develop them every single day. I think that's the main thing. We have to focus on the development of these guys and understanding what the expectations are, and how I want to do things. I think they've done a good job of embracing that."

And learning the Auburn way.

"When I was growing up, and the reason I came to Auburn, was Auburn was built off of toughness," Burns said. "The guys I saw before that paved the way for me were tough, hard-nosed guys. And that's how Auburn has won. This school is built off of work, hard work, and that's what I believe in, and that's what I expect my receivers to do. To catch passes and big plays, that's part of the reasons you're here. This is Auburn. This is the best school in the country. But it's the little things that make the difference. It's the dirty work — the blocking, the extra hustle plays are the things that make the difference. That's what I want to see from my guys."

Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at Follow him on Twitter:



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