Irons Excited About Joining Rudi in Cincy

Kenny Irons comments on being drafted in the second round by the Cincinnati Bengals.

Dacula, Ga.--When Kenny Irons met Cincinnati Bengals star Rudi Johnson earlier this year at the Super Bowl, the Auburn senior running back had an immediate positive impression.

That's a good thing because the two former Tiger tailbacks will get a chance to spend countless hours together now that Irons has been drafted to play for the Bengals.

A second round selection with the 49th overall pick in the 2007 NFL Draft, Irons will join a team which features Johnson as one of the star players.

After finishing his senior season in Auburn's victory over Nebraska in the Cotton Bowl, Irons participated in a nationally televised football skills contest in Miami prior to the Super Bowl. That was the first of two encounters with Johnson in recent months.

"We exchanged numbers and he said if you need anything to give him a call," Irons notes. "That was great right there."

Irons got to spend more time with the NFL star in March during Auburn's annual spring football game weekend. Both Irons and Johnson participated in a charity fundraiser, the Sydney Gran Foundation event. "I got a chance to talk to him," says Irons, who notes that Johnson didn't tell Irons that the Bengals were interested in him. "Rudi didn't give me a hint about the draft."

Kenny Irons

Irons began his college career at the University of South Carolina. However, after having a fallout with the staff of Coach Lou Holtz, he transferred to Auburn to play with his older brother, David Irons, a standout cornerback for the Tigers.

Kenny made a big splash at Auburn. After sitting out the 2004 season as a redshirt while Carnell Williams and Ronnie Brown led the Tigers to a 13-0 season, Irons blossomed at tailback in 2005. He led the SEC in rushing and was named a first team All-SEC player, an honor he would also receive as a senior in 2006.

Irons says that he wasn't sure which team would draft him, but notes he was not expecting it to be the Bengals. "It was like a surprise attack," he notes. "It got me."

Irons notes that he didn't talk to any coaches or scouts from the Bengals and didn't work out for that team except at the NFL Combine. He says when he talked to Marvin Lewis on Saturday evening, the head coach of the Bengals said, ‘‘Kenny, when you come in for rookie camp I want that business look on your face just like you were at the combine.' I knew they had interest, but I didn't know it was that strong."

Commenting on playing for the Bengals, Irons adds, "I think I will fit in well with the system. Playing behind Rudi will be great. He is a great running back and I respect him."

Irons rushed for 2,186 yards in two seasons, which is sixth in Auburn history. He rushed for 11 100-yard games for Coach Tommy Tuberville's Tigers.

Irons watched the draft at a party at Dacula, Ga., High School with his brother David, family and friends. Both the Irons brothers were star running backs there, but David moved to defense in college. Kenny says he found out he was drafted by hearing a scream from other people at the party.

He notes that he had gotten a call from the Bengals telling him what was going to happen, but he missed it. Irons was checking his cell phone voice mail when the announcement was made on television that he had been drafted.

"The first reaction is how I did I miss the call?," Irons says. "Who misses a call from the NFL coach who just drafted you?"

Screams of joy from others at the party signalled that the tailback had been picked. "I saw my name and my heart started pounding harder and harder," he says. "Everybody just went wild. My family, my parents, it was a blessing."

Kenny Irons blended speed, power and a hard-nosed running style to become a success at Auburn.

Irons admits he was nervous while waiting for hours to hear his name called. "I can stand on my own two feet now," he jokes. "I can walk. My legs aren't shaking like Bambi."

Always competitive with his older brother, the tailback says he is hoping that David won't have to wait long to hear his named called by an NFL team. "He is handling it well," Irons says. "He is excited for me. I am about to be excited for him when he gets selected. It is going to come soon.

"The draft is a big shuffle," Irons adds. "You never know where you are going to get drafted. I didn't expect this. People were saying the Giants, Buffalo, Green Bay, a surprising team here. When I found I was the 49th pick to Cincinnati and would playing with Rudi, I said, ‘Wow.'"

The tailback was the second Auburn player drafted on Saturday. Offensive guard Ben Grubbs was the first round pick of the Baltimore Ravens.

Irons plans to work out with the Bengals Friday, Saturday and Sunday and then will return for a training camp in late May. "It will make me comfortable with Rudi there," he says. "I will follow behind him and learn some things."


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