New Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn officially made his best hire to his staff yet when he wooed Georgia’s defensive line coach and recruiting coordinator Rodney Garner from Athens. Garner played and coached at Auburn, and he’s finally headed back home to join the Tigers’ coaching staff.
It was a tough decision for Garner to leave Georgia, too.
“It was a very difficult decision. I’ve been approached about it many times about the opportunity. But it’s my alma mater. It may be more of a pride thing, just looking at where they are right now and feeling like I really wanted to be a part of getting them back on track. I just felt like God was leading me in this direction. It’s something I prayed about and it was not an easy decision. I would not have left for any other reason than Auburn.”
Garner will be the Tigers’ new assistant head coach and defensive line coach, but much bigger than both of those titles is his dynamic recruiting ability. He’s a top-notch recruiter and is known as such around the country. Just look at Georgia’s recruiting classes over the last several years. Getting talent at Georgia was never a problem, and the Bulldogs always finished strong in recruiting every year.
Garner spent 15 years at Georgia under Jim Donnan and Mark Richt, and he’s been rather loyal to the Bulldogs over the years, too, with plenty of opportunities to jump ship to other programs. But this time he couldn’t turn down his alma mater, and I’m sure it’s a bittersweet deal for Richt, knowing he would probably only make a lateral move to Auburn.
Malzahn released a statement about Garner coming home:
“Rodney is one of the top defensive line coaches in college football who has had great success in the Southeastern Conference. It is great to welcome an Auburn man back home.”
Garner is looking to get Auburn back where it belongs, and he’ll have a big part in that, too, both from a coaching and recruiting stand point.
“I owe a lot to Auburn and the men who helped mold me to who I am today both professionally and personally,” Garner said in a statement. “I have a lot of love for Auburn and I felt this was a great chance to help give back to a place that has given me so much. I look forward to helping get Auburn back to where it belongs.”
The most immediate impact may be wooing one of the top defensive tackle prospects to Auburn in Montravius Adams. Adams, the Georgia native, is actually the top ranked tackle in the country by 247Sports’ Composite Rankings, and Garner was his primary recruiter at Georgia and will be at Auburn, too.
What it means for Auburn: Garner is known for getting big-time blue chip prospects to play for his defensive line, and that won’t change at Auburn. The Tigers have always recruited well, but Garner brings passion, energy and a clean record to the Tigers’ staff. It was Malzahn’s best hire yet.
What it means for Georgia: The loss of Garner becomes complicated for Richt, as his recruiting coordinator is now gone, and they have 35 high school prospects committed with National Signing Day less than two months away. And Garner is obviously the hub of the effort. Along with Montravius Adams now being in jeopardy, it will also likely impact JUCO all-star Toby Johnson, too.
Photo Credit: John Reed-USA TODAY Sports