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'Made this day so special' - Auburn Fan Day
Senior defensive lineman Montravius Adams generated a long line of autograph seekers.
Aug. 14, 2016

By Jeff Shearer

AUBURN, Ala. - #SundayFunday, meet Sunday Fan Day.

Auburn fans of all ages arrived early, waited patiently as temperatures climbed into the 90s, then interacted with the Tigers during a 90-minute picture and autograph session.

One group of fans arrived more than six hours before the 3:30 p.m start, extending their 5-year streak of being first in line, earning a VIP waiting room and social media shout-out from athletic director Jay Jacobs.

By the time fans began entering the indoor practice facility at 3:15, they were lined up past Beard-Eaves Coliseum, nearly to the rec center.

Ali Wilbanks, wearing what she called an “official Gus Malzahn outfit,” earned a special “Best Dressed” recognition from the head coach.

Wilbanks, wearing an orange Auburn visor and vest that matched Malzahn’s, said meeting the coach was “cool.”

Ali’s father, 1989 Auburn graduate Dwayne Wilbanks, says his daughter has been “a fan since birth.”

“She absolutely loves Gus Malzahn,” said Dwayne, who drove three hours from Warner Robins, Georgia. “She knows his wife’s name. His kids’ names. She really is a major, major fan.”

After signing an autograph for Ali, Malzahn had a picture taken of the two of them, before telling Ali, “War Eagle.”

“It’s hard to put into words,” Dwayne said. “This girl is my life. And for the coach to take special time with her just made this day so special. It’s something she’ll remember the rest of her life, and obviously, I will, too.”

<em> Senior offensive lineman Alex Kozan signs an autograph for Sam Kinsey, easy to spot in his orange and blue overalls.</em>
Senior offensive lineman Alex Kozan signs an autograph for Sam Kinsey, easy to spot in his orange and blue overalls.

Sam Kinsey did not win an award but his outfit still attracted attention.

Wearing a tiger hat he’s had since childhood, orange and blue overalls he wears on gameday, and a customized helmet Kinsey and his dad made specifically for Fan Day, he quickly collected autographs from John Franklin, Jeremy Johnson, Alex Kozan and Tony Stevens.

“I’ve always been a huge Auburn fan,” said Kinsey, while waiting in line to add Carl Lawson’s autograph to his blue helmet with a vintage Tiger logo.

Former Auburn offensive lineman Colin Sears brought from his sons Casey and Caleb from Trussville.

“I do like Bo Jackson,” said Caleb, whose impressive knowledge of Auburn history included knowing the years (’96-’00) his dad played for the Tigers.

Jordan Mills came with his sons, Stuart, age 9, and 10-year-old Jackson.

“They’ve been excited for over a month now,” Mills said. “I was really impressed. We got to meet a lot of the players. How personable they were. How nice they were to the kids was pretty cool.”

Three generations of Auburn fans made the three-hour drive from Geraldine in DeKalb County.

“Ever since my husband and I married, we’ve been coming down, which is 40 years,” said Kathy White, who came with her husband, daughter, son-in-law, and two granddaughters.

“Our daughter is a big Auburn fan,” White said. “She keeps up with everything.”

Aubie and the cheerleaders joined the volleyball and soccer teams nearby in the Watson Fieldhouse.

“It’s great. We enjoyed it,” White said, smiling at granddaughters Gracie and Reese Johnson, whose favorite player is Carl Lawson. “I love to see them up close and meet them. They’re all very nice.”

Jeff Shearer is a Senior Writer at Follow him on Twitter:

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