First in a series on departing seniors with memorable moments or careers in the SEC.
It's easy to forget now, after the unceremonious dumping of Tony Franklin and then Tommy Tuberville, after the hiring of Gene Chizik and Gus Malzahn, and after the emergences of Cam Newton this year -- it's actually hard to remember that Kodi Burns was supposed to be part of the amazing offensive system that would take Auburn to new heights. All you had to do is look at how well he did in Auburn's first spread offense during the first game he played in it.
It was the 2007 Peach Bowl, and Burns ran for the winning touchdown in overtime and threw for another of 22 yards -- his only completion that evening. With Brandon Cox moving on, the offense was going to belong to Kodi Burns. And for Auburn fans and the SEC media, that meant that the Tigers were the favorites to win the SEC West in 2008.
Of course, we all know what happened after that. Burns was part of the bizarre cacophony that was the Tony Franklin Awfulfense, the season was set ablaze in one of the most spectacular self-immolations ever by a potential national championship contender, and one of the most forgettable years in Auburn history ended with Burns and everyone else uncertain of what happened next.
For Burns, who had thrown seven interceptions against two touchdowns, there wasn't really any question that his future was not as the starting quarterback at Auburn. He would play behind Chris Todd in the first year of the Malzahn offense, attempting just 15 passes and completing five.
Burns became a role player in the offense, running 56 times for 175 yard and 5 touchdowns in 2009 and six times for ten yards an touchdown in 2010. He sort of settled in as a receiver, but still in a relatively minor turn, catching 11 passes for 177 yards in 2010.
But 2010 brought Burns' opportunity to win the titles that had long eluded him. And eighteen minutes into the national championship game, Burns caught a 35-yard pass from Newton, scoring the first touchdown of the game and giving Auburn a 7-3 lead. We know that Burns' touchdown was critical, because Auburn won by three points, which means that every score except the safety was critical (which was critical in its own way, if not in the points total department).
It was also the only dent Burns made on the box score that night. Another unusual night in a largely unusual career, and another chance for Auburn fans and others to forget his contribution. Maybe he never really delivered on the potential we all saw on that December night in 2007, but there's little reason to forget how Kodi Burns did help his team reach its ceiling on the biggest night for Auburn history in a long time.
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