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FRIDAY, AUGUST 3, 2007
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Young QB gains notice at opening AU practice
Tuberville says he likes Burns'
ability to run, pass

By Ross Dellenger
sports@decaturdaily.com · 340-2460

AUBURN — Sporting his mesh shorts, tennis shoes and an orange hat, coach Tommy Tuberville couldn't have been happier basking in the searing heat of Auburn's first football practice.

He compared it to a celebrated winter holiday.

"It's like Christmas for coaches because you recruited these kids for three or four years and now you got them on campus," Tuberville said Thursday morning after the underclassmen finished practicing.

Tuberville's biggest gift came in a red jersey with No. 8 stamped on it.

True freshman quarterback Kodi Burns lived up to the coach's expectations.

"He can throw it and he can pull it down and run it. He's exactly what we were looking for," he said. "He's got a lot to learn, but he looked good for the first day."

Just a few hours later, Tuberville addressed reporters again after the veteran players practiced. This time, it wasn't as merry.

"We're not very good right now, but we got four weeks to get ready," he said.

Starting quarterback Brandon Cox was absent from practice. Tuberville said he has a "touch of the flu" and may be out Friday, also.

Auburn will continue to split practice into two sessions — a morning one at 10 and an afternoon one at 4:30 — until Sunday. Tuberville said it gives coaches the chance to look at the younger guys separately, although there were some recognizable faces during Thursday morning's practice, including a certain Brad Lester, the Tigers' junior starting running back.

No need to worry. Lester is still the starter.

"We just needed a tailback. Brad will probably go with the (veteran) group tomorrow. We'll rotate them," Tuberville said.

The morning practice consisted of sophomores and redshirt and true freshmen, like Burns.

The 6-foot-1, 199-pound Arkansas native could play a Tim Tebow-type role for Auburn. Tebow, Florida's thick-framed backup to quarterback Chris Leak last season, was utilized as a running back more than as a passer, coming off the bench and rushing for 469 yards in 2006.

That ranked second on the team for the Gators.

Tuberville has alluded to Burns in that type of role, saying, “We’ll run a little bit different offense at times if we were to use Kodi.”

But the ninth-year Auburn coach doesn’t want to waste a year of eligibility for a small amount of production.

“We’re going to be smart with Kodi. We are not going to use him as a two-to-three-play guy unless we really think he can win games for us,” said Tuberville. “He’s a good drop-back QB that gives us a little bit different speed on the outside.”

Said Burns: “I feel like I could do what Tebow did — come in the game and give the defense a different look every now and then.”

Burns chose Auburn over his in-state school of Arkansas after watching the Tigers post that undefeated 2004 season. He admires former Auburn quarterback Jason Campbell. He even admitted to watching Campbell on film “pretty much every night.”

“As far as recruiting me, I think they’re trying to get back to that a little bit, as far as a scrambling quarterback,” Burns said.

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