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Phillip Marshall: Burns made lasting impact at Auburn

May 13, 2014

I have some abiding memories of Kodi Burns’ playing days at Auburn.

I remember the dazed look in his eyes as he tried to talk about Auburn’s 14-13 loss at Vanderbilt in 2008. “This isn’t what I came to Auburn to do,” said Burns, who had split time at quarterback with Chris Todd.

I remember the following April when Burns was told Todd would be the starting quarterback. Burns moved to wide receiver. Clearly facing the biggest disappointment of his athletic career, he stood before his teammates and told them he supported Todd and they should, too.

I remember the ferocity with which he blocked for Cam Newton and Auburn’s running game in 2010.

And I remember the unbridled joy when he caught the first touchdown of his career and Auburn beat Oregon 22-19 to win the BCS national championship.

It wasn't by accident that Burns was chosen by his teammates to present President Obama with an Auburn jersey when the team visited the White House.

In the end, Burns finished his career as one of the more popular players in Auburn history. He was beloved not because of statistics but because of the kind of teammate and kind of man he showed himself to be.

When Gus Malzahn, who as offensive coordinator chose Todd as the starter in 2009, went to Arkansas State as head coach, he hired Burns as a graduate assistant. And Burns followed Malzahn back to his alma mater. He has been a favorite of Auburn players, a confidant in stormy times.

Friday, Burns was named running backs coach on Pat Sullivan’s staff at Samford. It’s his first fulltime coaching job. He’ll be back in Auburn next November on the opposite sideline when the Bulldogs visit Jordan-Hare Stadium.

I don’t know anyone who has spent much time around Burns that expects him to have anything less than a stellar career as a coach and mentor of young men.

Speaking of Samford’s visit to Auburn next November, that game will have some interesting story lines.

Samford coach Pat Sullivan, of course, is a former Heisman Trophy winner and an Auburn icon if ever there was one. He was on the committee that hired Malzahn. He spoke to the team at the SEC Championship Game.

Texas A&M system regent Jim Schwertner told reporters on Monday during an update of the ongoing renovation of Kyle Field that he wants the stadium to be officially renamed "Kyle Field: The House That Johnny Built."

He really said that.

Until next time …


Phillip Marshall is a Senior Writer for Follow Marshall on Twitter:




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