This morning news came out that Gus Malzahn acted fast on the open wide receiver position and brought back former Tiger Kodi Burns to the staff. The official site made it official today with this tweet and this press release.
Kodi has had an interesting rise over the last few seasons. He spent 2012 as a graduate assistant with Arkansas State before returning to Auburn with Gus Malzahn as a GA for the 2013 team. In 2014 he was the running backs coach for the Samford Bulldogs. He moved on in 2015 to the Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders as the wide receivers coach before joining Todd Graham's Arizona State staff this past off-season.
Burns spent his collegiate career at Auburn as both a Quarterback and Wide Receiver. He spent most of 2007 going back and forth with Brandon Cox. 2009 was back-and-forth with Chris Todd. He went into a quarterback competition with Todd in 2009 in Gus Malzahn's first year as offensive coordinator. When Todd won the job, Burns famously stood up and asked the whole team to get behind and support him.
Burns made the move to wide receiver, where while his numbers were nothing spectacular, he had a huge impact on the 2010 BCS Championship team. Burns was a consistent blocker. He also caught the first touchdown pass in the BCS title game against Oregon.
There are a lot of unknowns about this hire. I love Kodi Burns as a former player and Auburn Man, but I don't know whether or not he's quite ready for a position like this. Todd Graham obviously felt he was ready for a P5 job since he hired him at Arizona State, though. Gus Malzahn has worked with him multiple times as a grad assistant, so he knows what he's getting.
With Burns, Gus Malzahn has someone who already knows his system. He also knows how to play wide receiver in Gus Malzahn's system. In particular he knows how to teach the blocking, since he was great at that. I also hope he's good at teaching route running, but having Auburn's most talented receivers able to block and stay on the field and not substitute out every 2-3 plays will help keep the pace up.
Dameyune Craig was a QB coach at heart and was coaching out of position with the wide receivers. I'm not sure how much of a bad thing this situation is in terms of coaching. I actually think Kodi Burns will be able to do an excellent job coaching wide receivers in Gus Malzahn's system. Graham's system at Arizona State was similar and he thought so, too.
The biggest question for Burns is how well he can recruit. Craig was one of the Top 3 recruiters in the nation last season. I don't know what Burns will be like on the recruiting trail. Thankfully the last thing Coach Craig did before leaving Auburn was help the Tigers sign an absolute monster of a recruiting class so that Burns has some amazing talent to work with.
Welcome back home, Kodi. I can't wait to see what you can do with the talent on hand at Auburn this season.