Player spotlight: Kodi Burns
Age: 20 (born 10/24/88)
Class this season: Junior
Hometown: Ft. Smith, Ark.
•2008, sophomore: Played in 10 games. Began the season as a backup. Became a full-time starter after Chris Todd's struggles. Played well at times, played very poorly at times.
•2007, true freshman: Played in 10 games as a rushing complement to struggling senior Brandon Cox. Wasn't allowed to show much.
The basics: Burns was a highly touted signee in 2007, when he became coach Tommy Tuberville's favorite recruiting target. Tuberville saw greatness in Burns and vowed to make the Arkansas schoolboy a major cog of an Auburn revival.
Burns shared time under center with Brandon Cox as a freshman and Chris Todd as a sophomore. Burns finally earned full-time work during the second half of 2008, though the team was in free fall after Tony Franklin's departure.
Burns currently is competing for the starting job along with Neil Caudle and Chris Todd.
The skills: Burns has a strong arm. Nobody disputes this. Burns also has refined running instincts for a quarterback. Though he tends to flee the pocket too quickly at times, Burns is a good ball-carrier and shows little fear when attacking defenses that way.
Burns is fast for a quarterback. He is not fast when compared to wideouts or tailbacks.
Burns' accuracy wanes because of imprecise mechanics. Burns doesn't repeat his throwing motion from one play to the next. During games, it seems like he's in scramble mode too often. He makes rash throwing decisions that contort his body because he wasn't planning to throw two seconds ago.
I've also noticed that he throws with a lot of weight on his front foot in practice, which creates the appearance that he's aiming the ball.
Teammates say Burns is sufficiently intense on the field.
The man behind the mask: Burns is a bright and introspective kid. He's not particularly chatty with strangers. He loves shooting pool near the locker room and will challenge all comers with surplus bravado. Ask him about pool and his eyes will light up.
I don't consider Burns a commanding leader. He isn't an angry person. I'm not saying he's lazy or apathetic. He just isn't the guy who will roll through the locker room and blast a teammate who needs blasting.
Some coaches want that in a quarterback. Some don't.
I've heard some people suggest, based on the way Al Borges used Burns in 2007, that Burns struggles to understand the playbook. I never have heard that from anyone inside the program. Intellect isn't a problem. Learning to make serially accurate throws and feeling comfortable in the pocket are where he needs improvement.
The crystal ball for 2009: Burns again plays second fiddle.
Photo credit: Todd Van Emst/Auburn University
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