"It feels like it's been forever," Irons says. "It's been two years since I've been on the field. The season is getting near so it's time for me to just showcase the ability that I have."
In the West Coast offense of second-year Auburn coordinator Al Borges, Irons will have an opportunity to show his abilities in many ways. Replacing two of the top five picks in the 2005 NFL Draft won't be easy, but Irons says he believes the Tigers' backfield has the personnel to get it done with a tailback-by-committee approach.
Irons runs during Tuesday's first practice of the fall for the Tigers.
"No one is going to be selfish about wanting to carry the ball more," he says. "Everybody is going to get an equal opportunity whether it's out of the slot position or running the ball or blocking. We're all going to be on the field and nobody is going to be selfish.
"What we learned from Carnell (Williams) and Ronnie Brown is to not be selfish--play your role on the team. If your role is to line up in the slot and catch passes, then that's your role.
"We'll switch to an out personnel--meaning we'll have two tailbacks in and one will do a lot blocking or he'll be in the slot," Irons adds. "I'll do some of it, but Carl Stewart will be in more of the Ronnie Brown role when we go to the out personnel. Tre (Tre Smith) and I will be more in the Carnell role."
The former Dacula, Ga., High standout turned heads with his running ability and his soft hands catching the ball out of the backfield while practicing on the scout team last season for the Tigers. He notes that his role in the offense this season won't be limited to toting the rock.
"We might see some (receiver play)," Irons says. "It just depends on what the coach wants out of me. I think he'll put me in the slot because I do have some good hands and I can catch the ball. It'll give me a chance to use my speed out in the open field."
Kenny Irons runs the football during spring training.
Irons looks physically impressive at practice and is up to 208 pounds on his 5-11 frame. While Smith recovers from emergency surgery after an appendicitis attack on July 26, Irons will have the opportunity to get more of the reps as the Tigers prepare for the 2005 campaign. However, Irons still believes that Smith's experience make him the go-to guy starting the season.
"Tre's always going to be the No. 1 guy," Irons says. "He's a great running back--he's quick, he's fast. Tre and I, we're two great backs. So are Carl and Brad (Brad Lester). Tre's the No. 1 guy and he's got experience and he's talented."
Even with the competition at Auburn and lack of competition he would have in Columbia after the Gamecocks top two backs--Demetris Summers and Cory Boyd--were kicked off the team during the summer, the South Carolina transfer has no regrets about leaving his former program.
"I've never had a second thought," Irons says. "My decision was made up that I wanted to transfer. Even though they have (coach Steve) Spurrier that still doesn't change my mind. The program might not be the same, but there will still be memories and I'm glad I'm not there.
"I came to Auburn with a fresh start and a clear mind. I'll have the opportunity to work on things that I lost my focus on when I got to South Carolina. I can focus on gaining weight, mentally preparing myself and being on a winning team."