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Coming Back Home

By on December 12th, 2012 in Football 26 Comments »

December 31, 2007 the Auburn Tigers are trailing Clemson in Atlanta’s Chick-Fil-a Bowl. Down 23-20 in overtime, freshman quarterback Kodi Burns’s blast up the middle and cuts back right on a 7-yard touchdown run to lead Auburn to a 23-20 victory.

It was the play of the game and helped earn Burns “Player of the Game” honors. He had played back up to senior Brandon Cox for most of the year but after this night’s performance, Head Coach Tommy Tuberville declared him the starter for the next season.

The future looked bright for the 5-star freshman. He had been rated the No.5 quarterback in the nation when he signed with Auburn out of Northside High School in Fort Smith, Arkansas; and now he was poised to be the leader of the Auburn football team.

But then a series of events threatened to derail his dreams. The 2008 season was fraught with losses and quarterback controversy. He was benched for QB transfer Chris Todd and then reinstated again. The situation was exacerbated by divisiveness amongst the coaching staff, a division that hit a low point when Offensive Coordinator Tony Franklin was dismissed in the middle of the season.

What was suppose to be Kodi’s coming out year ended with a 5-7 record including a blowout loss to Alabama, and the resignation of Tommy Tuberville.

With a new coaching staff on The Plains in 2009, Kodi found himself in another quarterback race. Although he didn’t win the race, he forever won the hearts of the Auburn Family.

When he received the news that he would not be the Tigers quarterback, Kodi showed what a man does in the face of disappointment. In what has become a famous moment for the Auburn faithful, he stood up at a team meeting and told his teammates that he had Chris Todd’s back and … he expected them to do the same.

It was a bonding moment for the team and solidified Kodi as a team leader. That’s what leaders do – they put what’s best for the group ahead of what’s best for them.

It was also a critical moment in what would eventually lead to the Tigers winning the National Championship in 2010. His words and actions were the genesis of the team chemistry for the following year’s undefeated season.

Even though Burns had to change positions he went on to be a key player in that magical season. It was Kodi that threw the block to spring Onterio McCalebb‘s 75 yard touchdown run against LSU. It was one of his blocks that helped seal off a line backer in Cam Newton‘s Heisman signature touchdown run in the same game. It was Kodi that threw the pass for Newton’s famous touchdown catch against Ole Miss. And it was Kodi that scored the first touchdown against Oregon in the BCS Championship game.

That spring his dream of trying out for the pros was derailed by an NFL labor dispute and player lockout. After trying his hand in the business world, he got a call from his old Offensive Coordinator, Gus Malzahn, to join him as a graduate assistant coach at Arkansas State.

Then on December 4, 2012 Malzahn was hired as the head coach at Burns’ alma mater. He offered Kodi the chance to continue as a grad assistant coach with him back on The Plains. Kodi was ecstatic about the opportunity, tweeting, “It’s true, I’m Coming home.”

Of all the people that Malzahn will bring with him, none will be more important to the character development of the players than Kodi Burns. Having a man like him that knows what leadership is and knows how to persevere in the face of adversity will be invaluable in producing winners and … in producing good Auburn men.

Welcome home Kodi. It’s good to have you back where you belong!


  1. DrBob_Wareagle says:

    Good One P.W!! Kodi may be the key to putting this team back together.

  2. Third Generation Tiger Third Generation Tiger says:

    Mr. Burns can teach this team a thing or two about commitment, sacrifice, and perseverance.

  3. wde1988 wde1988 says:

    Kodi is the epitome of an AU man. He is the kind of success story this team and program needs.

    But I am curious, what position on the staff will he be. Is he still a graduate assistant? Or does he have another job?


    • AubTigerman AubTigerman says:

      Kodi will be a grad assistant coach. Thanks Wde’88 for asking, I should have made that clear. I’ve made the change reflective in the story.

  4. Pine Mt Tiger Pine Mt Tiger says:

    Good move to bring Kodi Burns back to Auburn. This team needs his example of character and unselfishness. Good article ATM.

  5. domaucan1 domaucan1 says:

    When you read the Auburn Creed, you see Kodi Burns’ name in every line. Welcome back, Kodi !

    WAR EAGLE !!!

    GO BIG BLUE !!!

  6. TigerintheHass TigerintheHass says:

    Excellent move by Malzahn to bring a proven leader in to be an example for these guys. Things are looking up, Tiger Fans!

  7. autgr4life says:

    I agree with most of the other people commenting on here that Kodi is the perfect example of what a leader and Auburn man should be. Great players make great plays when the game is on the line and Kodi truly was a great player for AU. While the 2010 year was a highlight film of Cam and sometimes Fairly with a sprinkling of Lutzy and some others the truly GREAT players on that team are never given the true credit they deserve. Kodi, the great play of the offensive line and the other unsung heroes made great plays at moments when Auburn needed them most, those plays might have gone unnoticed but they nonetheless were just as critical as any play that anyone else had that year.

    War Damn Eagle Kodi!! I will always be thankful for the unselfishness, and leadership you showed throughout your Auburn career. Welcome home, we have missed you and need you now more than ever.

  8. MyAuburn myauburn says:

    My first thought was how much of an upgrade Kodi will be over Trooper in being the “players coach”

  9. Im4Auburn says:

    Love this story. If Coach Malzahn can produce more “men” like Kodi Burns, then Auburn football is in good hands!
    Welcome home Kodi, we’ve missed you.

  10. Tigerstripe Tigerstripe says:

    “Reunited and it feels so good…” Make Kodi the “Krunk” Coach on Saturdays and utilized him in the recruiting office. I’d rather see HS recruits hitch their wagon to Kodi than Trooper (no offense).
    First assignment: Rueben Foster

    • wde1988 wde1988 says:

      Interesting that you mention this, as I hear told this might not be a far fetched reality as it originally played out.

      You can describe what happened as an 18 year olds version of a temper-tantrum. That is what it amounts too. Rueben Foster gave AU an ultimatum and AU’s new head coach said… nope.

      Then Malzahn hired Ellis Johnson. The kicker for Foster is that if you are a defensive player… how do you argue yourself out of coming to AU to play for a guy like that?

      Still, I have read where other recruits who stuck with AU that know Foster are still working on him to return. To add even more clarity… seeing that Foster is from AU… it would make more sense for him to stay. Ultimately he never took AU off his list. I sort of suspect he will find a way to put his tail between his legs and stay at AU, Taylor be damned.


  11. sullivan013 sullivan013 says:

    I noticed with surprise when I re-watched the 2010 season on DVD that it was Kodi who scored the first and last touchdowns that year. Believe it or not, it was he not Cam who was in the ‘wildcat’ formation for the first short yardage score in the opening game, and he made his first (and last) touchdown reception in the BCS championship game.

    In between, he always seemed to be in a key position on big plays, either breaking open for Cam’s falling-backwards-out-of-bounds strike in the SEC championship, or hustling down field to throw the last block on one of Cam’s many wild runs. Take a look at the YouTube videos of the season highlights, and see if you can find more than a couple that DON’T show Kodi positioning himself to contribute to each play. He never stopped trying to contribute until the whistle blew.

    That’s a great coach in the making. Welcome home, Kodi.

    • KoolBell KoolBell says:

      Plus two huge first down catches against Alabama in the 2010 Iron Bowl.

      Yeah, I’d name my next kid Kodi if I was having kids. Hey ToTM, there’s a hint in there for you…..snickers..

  12. Tiger on the mountain Tiger on the mountain says:

    Malzahn might not have been an ‘electrifying’ hire, but he’s making all the right moves. It will be very exciting to see Kodi back on the sidelines! What a perfect person to teach leadership skills.

    • wde1988 wde1988 says:

      I want to see the rest of the staff. Here lately things have taken a “run silent – run deep” approach. Meanwhile, Johnson and Malzahn and Lashlee are recruiting.

      Gus hasn’t been still.

      I hear the feelers are out. Considering how well the Titans… did, I suspect we will hear soon that Tracey Rocker is on his way back to the Plains – probably with a little change in his pocket.

      Incidentally, I am hearing that we will see Thigpen and Martinez again. They are going up the road to Tennessee Volunteers.


  13. DothanTiger DothanTiger says:

    Good read ATM. Kodi will always be a special Tiger. It’s a real plus to the program to have him back as a coach. I’ve read before that he was doing some of that as a player. He may just have the gift for it. I would like to see him get a paid position with Auburn when he finishes grad school.

  14. War_Eagle_2010 War_Eagle_2010 says:

    I completely agree with everyone’s comments regarding Kodi. But one thing I’m really excited to see going forward is the impact he has on the receivers, specifically on their blocking. Just imagine what Tre Mason will be able to do when all those speedy corners are locked up by our aggressive blocking WRs. War Eagle!

  15. rn4au rn4au says:

    Kodi is the prime example of a team player. He has seen the highs and lows and can give recent personal experience to these kids about what it takes to get through both. He is a fabulous addition to the coaching staff! Well done Malzahn… Again!!

  16. Malakai Malakai says:

    Best story I’ve read in the off season.Such a selfless player, an Auburn man true and through. DAMN RIGHT! Kodi come on home and War Eagle my friend!