Kodi Burns (above) is coaching the wide receivers.
Auburn, Ala.--As the Auburn Tigers prepare for their first scrimmage of spring training set for Saturday, Offensive Coordinator Rhett Lashlee said the rebuilt coaching staff on his side of the line of scrimmage has been meshing well.
Kodi Burns, a former quarterback and wide receiver for the Tigers, was hired away from Arizona State to coach Auburn’s receivers this year.
“It has been a really seamless transition for him,” Lashlee said for Thursday evening’s practice. Burns coached on Gus Malzahn’s staff at Arkansas State in 2012 and at 2013 in Auburn.
“He knows how the situation goes, not only with Coach but with our system and me,” Lashlee said.
Herb Hand, who is in charge of Auburn’s offensive line, handled that same assignment last year for Penn State. Hand had worked with Gus Malzahn for two seasons at Tulsa where they served as co-offensive coordinators.
“Herb was obviously in system for two years at Tulsa and had been gone for eight or so years, but Coach (Malzahn) and Herb have known each for a long time, Herb and I have known each other a really long time,” Lashlee said. “We are really good friends. He knows what we are doing. So other than what we are calling it now and how we are doing it now, a lot of it has been like riding a bike for him.
Herb Hand is one of the new coaches on Gus Malzahn's staff.
“Those guys have plugged in and the chemistry has been really good,” Lashlee added. “They have done a really good job and I think the players have responded really well than both of them, too.”
One of the points of emphasis this spring is rebuilding the wide receiver group. Two of the players who have a chance for an expanded role are sophomore Ryan Davis and redshirt freshman Darius Slayton.
“They are progressing--it’s a process,” Lashlee said. “Obviously, Slayton’s a guy that we are hopeful will continue to keep coming. He’s done some nice things. How’s he going to do in these scrimmage situations?
“Ryan, the good thing for Ryan is he’s played so he has seen the bright lights already a little bit. He is getting the opportunity to kind of be in a competition to be the guy. Both those guys are doing a good job competing and taking, so far, advantage of their opportunities. Hopefully, Saturday they’ll do some nice things.”
Another young receiver looking to contribute is redshirt sophomore Stanton Truitt, who has been very limited since he arrived on campus because of injury problems, including a shoulder issue.
“I think I know what he can do, but to his defense he came in as a freshman and he got nicked up a little bit,” Lashlee points out. “Then last year he was nicked up a little bit. One thing we learned is he is tough because he tried to keep playing in both situations so hopefully he is out there running routes, too, but he is limited--but hopefully he will come back this fall. He can really run so hopefully he can stay healthy and really help us. He did some things in some games whether it be LSU or whether it be Arkansas and some games even last year. That proves he has got an opportunity to help us.”
Asked about another receiver, Tony Stevens, Lashlee said, “Tony is a senior. It is the last opportunity for him. He has got the ability, he knows what to do and I think he knows it is a time of urgency for him. We will just have to see how he finishes spring.”
Early high school graduate Kyle Davis will also have to wait to later in the year for contact after having shoulder surgery last fall.
“Physically, what we call on the hoof, he looks the part,” Lashlee said. “He looks good in pads. He’s running routes and catching balls. He’s limited in what he can do. We won’t really know that until the fall, but from what we’ve seen so far we feel pretty good about his chances to compete for a spot come fall camp.”