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Walk-ons no longer

AUBURN – Blake Burgess was Auburn’s backup center last season. He could be Auburn’s starting center in the season-opener against Utah State.

Senior fullback Chris Humphries

But until Monday night, he was on his own, a walk-on whose family was footing the bill for his education. But that all changed when Auburn coach Gene Chizik called his name Monday night. Burgess was one of eight walk-ons who were awarded scholarships to the cheers of their teammates.

“It was a huge moment,” said Burgess, a third-year sophomore from Vestavia Hills High School. “To see the love my teammates and coaches have for me is truly amazing.”

Burgess’ father, Rick, is a former player and coach. His grandfather, Bill Burgess, was a legendary coach in Alabama high schools and at Jacksonville State. They told him they believed he could play and they would worry about the finances.

They don’t have to worry anymore.

“I just knew I wanted to play here,” Burgess said. :My pop and my dad said I could play at this level, so I went for it.

Burges was joined by junior safety Ikeem Means, senior fullback Chris Humphries, senior linebacker Ashton Richardson, senior wide receiver Nathan Taylor, senior tailback Davis Hooper, sophomore offensive lineman Aubrey Phillips and senior kicker Chris Brooks

Means, from Wetumpka, has been playing since he was a true freshman. He finally got the word he and his family wanted to hear,

“It’s the ultimate dream for me,” means said. “That was one of my goals coming in. I just have to keep pushing and keep working.”

Means planned on playing a joke on his family.

“I’m all about playing pranks,” Means said. “I was going to tell them it didn’t happen, maybe next year. They were actually at my apartment. They knew before I did. It really started to hit me when I saw how happy everybody was.”

Humphries’ wait has been even longer. He welcomed the news and the impact it would have on his family. He has another brother at Auburn and two in high school.

“I’ve been here a long time, a lot of practices, a lot of days with Yox,” Humphries said. “To hear Coach Chizik call my name was really special me. There’s a lot of high-fiving, chest-bumping things like that. It definitely hasn’t been easy.”

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