AUBURN, Ala. — Come one, come all.
That’s Gus Malzahn’s mentality when dealing with Auburn’s football alums. If one has time to stop by the Auburn Athletic Complex, Malzahn will do everything he can to accommodate a former Tiger.
“We would welcome all of them. It's great to have,” said Auburn’s second-year coach, noting cornerback Jerraud Powers, who played for the Tigers from 2005-09 and is in his second year with the Arizona Cardinals, stopped by Tuesday’s practice. “ It was great to have him here. We're a true family, and we want to make sure that we have great relationships with our former players and our current NFL players, too.”
Powers is merely the most recent example.
Take legendary Heisman Trophy-winning running back Bo Jackson, who watched multiple games from the sideline in last year’s run to the BCS title contest. Or look at Takeo Spikes, a two-time Pro Bowl linebacker in his 15-year career in the NFL, who gave a fiery pregame speech prior to Auburn’s win against Ole Miss. Then there’s Cam Newton, the all-everything quarterback from the Tigers’ 2010 BCS title team, who is back on campus this semester in hopes of earning his sociology degree. (He is on pace to graduate in May.)
Malzahn couldn’t be happier to see so many former Tigers reconnecting with the program.
Given their lofty credentials — and the knowledge they can pass on to current Tigers — the coach hopes the pilgrimage doesn’t stop any time soon.
“It's great for our current players to see former players, especially successful guys, come back and get the wisdom and everything that goes with it,” he said.