Auburn currently has three retired numbers in the football program, and after this season's team won the program's second national championship, that number is bound to increase. While Cam Newton and Nick Fairley were the best two players in the nation this season (and arguably the best players at their position in Auburn history), I firmly believe the next retired number honor should go to a number that has been shared by two players for the past four years. Of course, I'm talking about number 18, Kodi Burns and Wes Byrum.
Kodi Burns came to Auburn as a highly recruited quarterback out of Fort Smith, Arkansas. His potential was so great, that Tommy Tuberville, noted defense-and-clock-control aficionado, brought in no huddle spread offense "guru" Tony Franklin to call the offense to Burns' strengths. Of course, we all know how that went. Kodi never panned out as a big time SEC quarterback, and eventually had to take a demotion to wide receiver for starting quarterback Chris Todd. It was in this moment that Kodi Burns endeared himself to the Auburn family. Instead of packing his bags and trying to be a quarterback somewhere else, he swallowed his pride and took his demotion like a true Auburn man. He stood before his team and told them to support Todd as the quarterback of the team; he put the team before himself. There is a video of this that I'm sure everyone has seen, but I can't seem to find it ANYWHERE online. If you can, post it in the comments.
Kodi didn't turn into an all-conference wide receiver. In fact, he only caught two touchdown passes in two seasons at the position. However, while playing the position, he walked the walk. His downfield blocking was excellent and helped spring countless big runs. He never once complained about playing time, and put his head down and did his job. On and off the field, Kodi Burns has exemplified what it means to be an Auburn man for four years. I am proud to call him a Tiger.
Wes Byrum came to Auburn from Fort Lauderdale, Florida in the same recruiting class as Kodi. He replaced John Vaughn in his freshman season, and immediately inserted himself into Auburn football lore by kicking the game-winning field goal against Florida in the Swamp. Twice. He has had a stellar career at the kicker position, and leaves school as Auburn's all-time leading scorer. It was only fitting that the BCS national championship game came down to his foot, and he of course delivered like he has so many times before.
It is unlikely that either of these players sees much time (if any) in the NFL. They may play in a lower league like the CFL for a few years, but they aren't going to attract the attention of the big time teams. That's okay. Being an Auburn man isn't necessarily about having otherworldly talents and being a first round draft pick. Being an Auburn man is about giving your best effort all the time, never complaining, and getting your job done. When these two players were recruited to Auburn, their job was to bring home the first national championship in half a century. They put their noses down, didn't complain, and got the job done. The number 18 should be retired and credited to both of these men. War Eagle, guys. We couldn't have done it without you.