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Countdown: Replacing Wes Byrum

COUNTDOWN TO REPORTING DAY: As the opening of preseason practice approaches, we will look each day at one issue the Auburn football team must confront as it begins preparations for defense of its national championship.

Sophomore kicker Cody Parkey.

AUBURN – Kicker Wes Byrum isn’t an Auburn folk hero like Cam Newton and Nick Fairley, but successfully replacing him could prove to be every bit as important as replacing the superstars from Auburn’s 2010 national championship team.

Byrum scored 355 points in his career on 58 field goals and 181 extra points. No Auburn football player ever scored as many. Last season, his field goal in overtime took down Clemson. His last-second field goal beat Kentucky. And there was the biggest kick of his career as time expired to beat Oregon and win the national championship. He was 17-of-22 for the season.

His replacement will be a kicker who has not made a field goal in college.

Sophomore Cody Parkey, rated by some as the nation’s kicking prospect when he signed in February 2010, is the heir apparent. He kicked 35 times and made two extra points as a freshman. But senior walk-on Chandler Brooks was the special teams MVP in the A-Day game when Parkey was sidelined with a leg injury.

When Auburn starts practice Wednesday, they’ll compete for the opportunity to fill the large vacancy left by Byrum, who has moved on to the Seattle Seahawks.

Parkey had his best day of the spring in the scrimmage on the Saturday before A-Day, kicking a 49-yard field goal.

“It would have been good from 60,” Auburn special teams coach Jay Boulware said at the time. “I’m really pleased with him.

But Brooks, given the opportunity, made field goals of 43, 41 and 48 yards in the A-Day game and sailed his only kickoff into the end zone.

Tuesday: Reloading at linebacker.

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