On Thursday Scout.com five-star rated quarterback Kodi Burns from Northside High School announced that he will play his college football for the Tigers, choosing Auburn over the University of Arkansas Razorbacks.
Burns says there is plenty to like about the programs at both Auburn and Arkansas.
"I just knew the (Auburn) coaches were straight-forward, the same as they are at Arkansas," he says. "That is what made it so hard to make a decision ultimately, but I just wanted to get away from home and Auburn is one of the top schools academically.
"A lot of things stood out," he adds. "You really can't just look at how good somebody's weight room is and all of that," Burns adds. "I felt like the people are good at Auburn and I can trust them and I can go and get a good education there."
Burns, who put up big numbers for Northside, is an athletic quarterback who could beat teams with his strong right arm and quick feet.
He notes that he called Auburn offensive line coach Hugh Nall on Wednesday night to inform his recruiting coach that he would be announcing for the Tigers prior to coming to Auburn this weekend for an official visit as the Tigers play the Georgia Bulldogs.
"Basically, I wasn't for certain until a couple of days ago," he says. "I felt I was pretty much ready to make a decision. I let Coach Nall know last night. He is their offensive line coach. I really like Arkansas, too, but it just didn't work out that way. I prayed about it and I felt I didn't have anything to wait for. It was just time to make a decision."
Burns notes that Nall was very excited at the news. The AU coach has also been recruiting an offensive line prospect from Arkansas, Rogers High star Lee Ziemba, who has also narrowed his choices to the Tigers and Razorbacks. Ziemba hoped to visit Auburn this weekend, but had to postpone the trip because his unbeaten team has a playoff game Friday night.
Ziemba and Burns are friends and have talked about recruiting throughout the year. When asked if the two plan to attend the same college, Burns says, "My decision has absolutely nothing to do with his decision. He is his own man and my decision really doesn't have much to do with his.
"If we were definitely going to the same place we would have announced on the same day. I feel like he is his own man and I hope he makes the right decision for himself."
Burns was a three-year starter in high school and finished his career with close to 9,000 yards of total offense with 91 touchdowns.
"The only disappointing thing about going to Auburn is that my parents won't be able to see me play much like they would have if I had gone to Arkansas, but they told me to just make the best decision for myself," the quarterback says.
Burns is currently working out with his high school basketball team after his football team did not make the state playoffs. Commenting on why he announced his decision this week, he says, "I just felt like my season was over with and there was really nothing else to wait for. I kind of wanted to wait and see what Lee was going to do, but after telling my parents that they said if you have got your mind up you need to go ahead and do what you have got to do."
In September the quarterback got a visit from Tuberville and Nall who came to watch Smith's Northside team play on a Friday night. "It meant a lot to me that they came to see me," Burns notes. "Houston (head coach Houston Nutt) and Gus (offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn) did the same thing for Arkansas. That is why it made it a hard decision because both recruited me very well, but in the end I think I made a great decision."
Malzahn was the head coach at Springdale High of Arkansas freshman quarterback Mitch Mustain, who is considered a rising star for the Razorbacks. When asked if Mustain being in Fayetteville pushed him away from the Razorbacks, he says, "No sir, that didn't play into my decision at all.
"Arkansas did a lot better than I thought they were going to do this season. They are going to be a BCS team just like Auburn and I feel like they have to put the best quarterback on the field at both places. I think that actually helped out more because I knew they were going to play fair (open competition for the starting job at Arkansas). The quarterback situation at either school really didn't have much to do with it."
Although Burns had offers from colleges around the country, he only seriously considered two programs. However, that didn't keep other colleges from trying.
"It has been pretty hectic the last couple of months," he says. "I really do feel glad that I have made my decision and got it over with."
Burns notes that he asked players who are part of the teams at Auburn and Arkansas about those programs before making his decision. "I talked to players at both schools to get a feel for what both schools are like. Both of them pretty much said the same thing. You get real excited, but in college the coaches do act differently on the field than they do when they are recruiting you. I am aware of that. I feel like that both of the staffs could be trusted, but I just feel like Auburn is the best decision for me."
(Dudley Dawson of Hawgs Illustrated and Scout.com contributed to this report.)