Auburn Football News And Notes

Auburn players Kodi Burns, Ryan Smith and LaDarius Owens talk about preseason practice.

Auburn, Ala.--Auburn senior wide receiver Kodi Burns has been around and seen plenty of things in his time on the Plains, but he admits he hasn't seen much like true freshman Shaun Kitchens. At 6-3, 215 and the athleticism to play a number of different positions, Kitchens is working as a slot receiver, H-Back and even some fullback for Auburn at the moment. As far as Burns is concerned he's already a guy to watch for this fall.

"He's done a great job," Burns said of Kitchens. "He's pretty elusive with the ball. Also his physicality, he's one of the most physical freshmen I've seen since I've been here. He's about 6-3 or 6-4 and can run with the ball. He's really going to help us out this year I think."

Burns hasn't done too bad himself this preseason at the slot receiver (5) position for Auburn's offense as he has made several big plays in the last few days including a big grab in Wednesday's scrimmage. He said for him it's just a continuation of being more comfortable at wide receiver since making the move last fall.

"I think it was pretty good," Burns said. "I'm starting to do a lot better catching the ball, getting it at the highest point. I'm just making plays. That's what I'm trying to do for this team is to go out there and make plays every day.

"I definitely think I have fully made it," Burns said of the move. "When I started I had never caught a pass in my life until last year. Now I've had a whole summer to work and a whole spring to work. Those things come natural to me now. Instead of trying to catch the ball I'm worried about the route now. It just comes natural."

Learning The Ropes

While Kitchens appears to be one of the freshmen that has made a push for playing time, working with the first team unit, the opportunity to break in at safety is much tougher with the return of Aairon Savage, Zac Etheridge and Mike McNeil from injuries. True freshman Ryan Smith said for him the goal right now is just to improve and learn from some of the best while he has the opportunity.

"It helps a lot," Smith said of having the older guys around. "They know the game a lot more than me at this point. Just being able to look up to somebody like that, knowing where to line up on the field or for a different assignment, it's big for us.

"I just want to do through the process right now," he added. "I just want to contribute to the team as much as I can. Whenever they need me I want to be able to come in and not have a drop off. Them showing me the ropes and teaching me about how Auburn football is supposed to be played is just helping me out a lot."

Working To Get Better Auburn freshman linebacker LaDarius Owens was a little late to his post-practice interview on Thursday night and it was probably a very good thing for the coaching staff to hear. While most everyone else had left the field to get a shower and head home for some sleep, Owens was still on the field working on his game to correct mistakes made in Wednesday's scrimmage.

"I did a little extra work after practice to work on keeping my stance lower," Owens said. "I did a couple of drills out there. Things are going okay. Sometimes I put too much pressure on myself to be honest with you. I'm still getting used to being in the linebacker stance and staying low and playing with a base and playing with leverage. That's the main thing I have to get down. Once I get that down I think I'll be at a position where I can compete and kind of separate myself and make more plays."

Former Auburn standout Travis Williams is currently a graduate assistant coach for the defense and one of his jobs has been to work with the linebackers. Eltoro Freeman credits Williams with helping him mold his game and his mental makeup at the position in the last 12 months and Owens said he's helping him to reach his goals as well.

"He's very valuable," Owens said. "He was here. He was the last All-American (linebacker) here. That has been about six years now. He knows a lot. He has been to the NFL. He has been to the place all of us are trying to get. He kind of speaks our language. I can go to him and he helps me out. He's honest with me. He doesn't sugarcoat anything. He's straight to the point. He tells me what I need to do and what I need to work on. He's very helpful to us."

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