Smoke Monday among ex-Auburn players at combine supporting Bryan Harsin

The three former Auburn players participating in this week’s NFL combine in Indianapolis expressed support for coach Bryan Harsin after the university decided last month to retain him following an investigation.

“I never really had any problems with him, for real,” former safety Smoke Monday said Saturday. “There was a lot of different guys that might’ve had their problems, but I was not one of those guys. I feel like, like I said, he does everything in his power di lui to get his players in the best position to perform well. I feel like he’s a coach that wants to win. He’s got a winning mindset, and if you got a winning mindset, things work out for you. “

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After one season in which his team finished 6-7, Harsin’s future came into question by early February amid significant turnover on his coaching staff and 18 players entering the transfer portal. One of those transfers, defensive lineman Lee Hunter, spoke out against Harsin in a social media post in which he said players were treated “like dogs.”

Monday responded to Hunter’s post by saying it was “real and true,” and “I was at Auburn for four years and it never felt like how it felt this past season. Auburn will forever be my second home, but in order for guys to succeed, this has to change. Harsin is hell of a coach that wants to win but as a person he truly don’t understand kids that come from nothing, kids that come from the hood, like he truly don’t understand that, but as kids we try our best to outgrow where we came from, but we need people that didn’t grow up the way we grew up to help us along the way, and that was something Harsin didn’t do. “

However, Monday struck a different tone when asked at the combine about Harsin.

“I played with the guy and I feel like he’s a pretty good coach,” he said Saturday. “He does everything in his power di lui to bring the team closer. He tries his best to get us to the point where we expect each other to be more than other teams. When I was there, he was doing a great job of trying to keep the team together. There was a lot of people trying to break us apart, so I feel like he is doing a good job. “

An outside law firm assisted Auburn in investigating its coach, how he handled his duties and his treatment of those within the program. It announced Feb. 11 that it was keeping Harsin.

Asked Saturday about what it would be like to play under a coach this upcoming season who faced such scrutiny, Monday said, “It’s kind of weird.”

Linebacker Zakoby McClain said it would not be unusual.

“When I was there, we had all the noise,” he said. “We just stayed as a team, as a family. You don’t let the outsiders get in and just have that bond. It would be the same way still if I was still there, just block it out. “

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Harsin fired offensive coordinator Mike Bobo and defensive coordinator Derek Mason resigned after one season. Harsin hired Austin Davis to replace Bobo before he also resigned.

“I feel like what’s going on now, they just rebuilding,” former cornerback Roger McCreary said Saturday. “Some coaches left and some players left, so they had to rebuild. They just all got to be on the same page. But I know at the end, all the coaches come together, they talk, we get on the same page, I feel like it will be great for them in the future. “

McClain also remained optimistic about the direction of the program.

“He’s a very good coach,” he said. “I believe in what he got going on with the team. He’s a very good coach and he’s going to be very successful at Auburn. “

Mike Rodak is an Alabama beat reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @mikerodak.

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