AUBURN, AL (WSFA) - Auburn will honor its national championship football team with a celebration on January 22 in Jordan-Hare Stadium. But a crowd estimated at more than 2,000 got a jump on the proceedings when it cheered its conquering heroes, upon their return to campus Tuesday night.
The team got off their buses and made their way down the driveway in front of the Auburn Athletic Complex. They shook hands, signed autographs and took pictures with fans along the way. Then Athletic Director Jay Jacobs, Coach Gene Chizik, and players Kodi Burns and Zac Etheridge took to the podium to thank the fans for their support.
"It was really fun being here tonight, because you see the players on the field doing their job, but it's so fun to see them out here, high fiving us and giving us hugs," said Ellie Johnson, an Auburn Freshman. "It's just really surreal."
"It's just one of those things you can't even put it into words," said Keith Nicholson, an Auburn alumnus, who traveled from Columbus for the celebration. "We were just thankful they were blessed to have that opportunity and we're glad to be a part of it."
And for the coaches and players, the show of support from the Auburn Family was overwhelming.
"You look at all this and this is wonderful," said Defensive Coordinator Ted Roof. "There's a reason they call it the Auburn family and you look out here and see all this people on a cold night in Alabama, this is special."
"It is exciting," said Emery Blake, a sophomore Wide Receiver. "It really helps sink in the feeling of being national champions to see everyone out here celebrating at home."
Many of the fans waited hours in the cold, but the chance to see their champions up close made the wait worth it.