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Auburn an easy sell for alumni turned coaches

Auburn wide receivers coach Kodi Burns watches drills during spring practice at the university's athletic complex on March 1, 2016.
Auburn wide receivers coach Kodi Burns watches drills during spring practice at the university's athletic complex on March 1, 2016. mniziolek@ledger-enquirer.com

Auburn linebackers coach Travis Williams and wide receivers coach Kodi Burns don’t have to get creative on the recruiting trail.

Their personal experiences as players on the Plains allow them to speak from the heart when selling the university.

“This is home to me,” Burns said. “Auburn is what I am. I bleed orange and blue. A lot of people work their whole career to get back to a place like this.”

While many coaches view new opportunities as a way to climb up the professional ladder, Williams isn’t just passing through.

“I’m not looking other places, I’m good right here,” Williams said. “If I could Joe Whitt this deal for 24 years I would be happy. This place does so much for me and I owe this place so much.”

Williams was a All-SEC linebacker on the undefeated 2004 team that beat Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl to finish second in the nation. He returned to the program as a defensive analyst in 2014 and was promoted when Lance Thompson left for South Carolina.

Burns didn’t reach the heights of Williams’ individual success as a player at Auburn, but helped bring a national title to the Plains in 2010 with a 35-yard touchdown catch against Oregon. He was also part of Auburn’s run to the championship game in 2013 as a graduate assistant.

The former wide receiver doesn’t think it was an accident coach Gus Malzahn filled multiple offseason coaching vacancies this with former players.

“What Coach Malzahn has done is he's hired guys that have played here, and have put their blood, sweat and tears in this school and on that field,” Burns said.

The coaching staff refers to student-athletes signing with the school as joining the “Auburn family.” What might sound like a corny slogan is anything but for Burns and Williams.

“I am Auburn,” Burns said. “I believe in everything I say about the school. I believe it, and really believe from the heart. So when I'm recruiting, when I'm coaching my players, I'm very passionate about it.”

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