Burns Leaves Teammates Shaking Their Heads

Auburn, Ala.--Wearing a non-contact jersey isn't good for business when you're dual-threat quarterback like Kodi Burns. The true freshman hadn't been hit since he arrived on campus early in the summer. On Saturday he got his wish, was live for contact and earned the respect of his teammates after an impressive showing in Auburn's scrimmage at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

"When he stiff-armed one of our linebackers and then shook about two people I was like, ‘What?'" said defensive end Quentin Groves, who has seen it all over the last three years from athletic quarterbacks like Matt Jones, Syvelle Newton, Bryan Randall and Tim Tebow.

Tailback Brad Lester thought Burns looked like last year's Heisman Trophy winner.

"He looked good and I'd say he reminds me a little of Troy Smith," Lester explained. "He's going to be a real big asset for us in the future. I don't see him playing too much this year because Brandon Cox is a real good quarterback, but I could see him playing and maybe starting for us in the future."

The Tigers have a solidified quarterback in senior Cox, so there's going to be a tough decision about whether to redshirt Burns and save the year of eligibility or go ahead and use his talents. It worked for Florida last season with senior Chris Leak returning under center but also playing a true freshman for several snaps per game on way to winning the national championship.

"Ohhh man!" Auburn defensive lineman Sen'Derrick Marks exclaimed when asked about Burns play in Saturday's scrimmage. "It's different. It's a lot different when you have a guy like that. It's hard to keep him in the pocket. A lot of guys have their hands on him and he still doesn't go down. He's a dual-threat. I guess it's like Chris Leak and Tebow. You've got Cox and Burns, so we're going to see where it goes."

Getting reps behind a struggling second and third team offensive line, it wasn't an environment that was conducive for standing around in the pocket and threading balls through the defensive secondary, which Burns actually prefers. He was able to complete a long pass to freshman receiver Quindarius Carr for a score, but most of Burns' big plays came on the ground after his protection failed.

"I don't think he's quick to run," explained tight end Tommy Trott, "but from what I saw he had to be quick to run. They were back there pretty quick on him. Even when he does run he's not too quick to tuck the ball and he's still out there trying to make throws and make plays. So it's really not a bad thing when he gets out of the pocket. He's not a guy who is just going to get out there and just tuck the ball and run with it. He's going to try to keep his eyes down field and make throws.

"He took one for about 45 or 50 I would say," Trott added. "I'm not sure how long it, but it was something we haven't seen here in a while--a real fast quarterback out of the backfield. He was out there making plays and I feel like he played pretty good today."

Running back Mario Fannin redshirted last season and is another freshman with a certain buzz following him around because of his potential at Auburn. Fannin, a 5-11, 220-pounder, was a quarterback at Lovejoy, Ga., High School and actually played the part of Tebow on the scout team last season prior to the Florida game. He had a solid day on Saturday with the ball in his hands and thought Burns looked spectacular.

"He reminded me of myself back in high school," Fannin joked. "He's a good quarterback. He made some reads and if he didn't find anybody downfield he didn't try to force it and he made the play with his legs. He's going to have a good future at Auburn."

Even though Jason Campbell was a good athlete with good straight-line speed, Auburn hasn't had a quarterback since the days of Dameyune Craig in 1997 who was a threat to tuck it and take off on any play. But the question still remains whether to play him or save him.

Inside The AU Tigers Top Stories