Todd Named Starter, Burns Makes Move

Auburn naming its starting quarterback and a surprising position move highlighted Thursday's practice.

Auburn, Ala.--News on the starting quarterback and a position change highlighted Thursday night's practice for the Auburn Tigers. While the news of Kodi Burns making the move to wide receiver was big, the announcement of Chris Todd as Auburn's starting quarterback came after the senior didn't take a snap in spring practice and had just two series in Tuesday night's first scrimmage.

Chizik said that it was tough to make the call but he and offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn felt like the timing was right and they had their guy in Todd.

"We had to make some tough decisions today," Chizik said. "Obviously everybody wants to know what is happening at the quarterback position. We made some tough decisions after very thoroughly evaluating the whole situation. We talked to all the quarterbacks today and we basically told them our assessment.

"We decided to go with Chris Todd as our starter. We talked to the team about it. We talked to each quarterback about it. At the end of the day we're always going to make the decision that gives us what we feel is the best chance to win. That's what we did."

In deciding to go with Todd, Chizik said that he and Malzahn just decided that he had shown enough in a short period of time to let them know he was the choice.

"He's done some really good things to date," Chizik said. "We can't keep repping all these guys. We've got to make some decisions and go with it. Some of them are tough. His shoulder feels good and he's throwing the ball well. We had to narrow it down and we had to narrow it down sooner rather than later to get the repetitions built up. We just feel like in the limited time he's been in the offense he's definitely shown flashes of what we need to see to give us the best chance to win."

Kodi Burns grabs a pass during Thursday's practice.

Burns was still in his customary orange jersey but when the workout got underway he was with the wide receivers instead of the quarterbacks as he decided to make a position move to help out the team. Chizik said it's something they discussed and he's proud of the way Burns handled things and stepped up for the team.

"Kodi is a very talented young man," Chizik said. "And he's an Auburn man. He's very unselfish. We just feel like Kodi can help this football team somewhere on our offense. We talked through it and we just kind of gave him our vision and our plan of what we thought we give him the best chance to help our football team and where that would be.

"We feel like we can play him at some wildcat as well as wide receiver," Chizik said. "He went out there tonight and did a great job. He understands that position being a quarterback. He's very athletic and we want to give him every opportunity to help our team win football games."

For Burns it's a move that makes sense if he's not in the mix as a starting quarterback for the Tigers. He can now focus on learning the wide receiver position and because he still hasn't redshirted that could be an option this season if he doesn't adapt quickly enough to his new home. Chizik said the biggest part of Burns' decision to move is how he handled things.

"He was unbelievable tonight," Chizik said. "After we had the team meeting he wanted to say some words to our team. It was truly, truly inspirational. It was very heart felt. It was a tough day but he showed truly he is today. He's a guy with a lot of character. What a great competitor. He's at true Auburn man. He wants to help Auburn win games. I couldn't be more proud of a player right now that accepted the position the way he did."

The already thin linebacker corps got even thinner this week as junior college transfer Eltoro Freeman was wearing a cast on his right hand from an injury suffered in Tuesday night's scrimmage. Chizik said Freeman should be fine and it was normal camp bumps and bruises. With sophomore Spencer Pybus and freshman Harris Gaston already on the sidelines with minor injuries, it leaves Auburn with just three scholarship linebackers currently.

Chris Todd prepres to throw a pass in Thursday night's practice.

Because of that Chizik said they would give true freshman Dee Ford a look at linebacker to help with the depth issues. He said it's a tough move to move back but they want to see if he can help out and fill a role in camp. He said there weren't any more moves they were looking at currently.

On the offensive line there was a different look to the first unit as true freshman John Sullen was working at left guard in place of junior Mike Berry. Looking to build some depth on the line, Berry worked at left tackle with the second team in case he's needed at that position down the road.

The Tigers will return to action Friday morning with the first of two practices, the final two-a-day practices of the preseason. They will scrimmage Saturday afternoon before taking Sunday off for Fan Day.

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