Georgia’s longtime recruiting coordinator, Rodney Garner, has decided to leave his post at Georgia and return to his alma mater—Auburn.
Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs confirmed Thursday night on Twitter that longtime Bulldogs assistant Rodney Garner — his onetime co-worker at Auburn — has accepted a position on Gus Malzahn’s new Tigers staff.
…Garner, also the Bulldogs’ defensive line coach and assistant head coach, was in his 14th season as a Georgia assistant, which made him the longest-tenured coach on staff.
Georgia has been one of the nation’s best recruiting programs under his watch, mining the state’s fertile talent base to where its signing classes frequently rank in the national top 10 on signing day. The Bulldogs’ current 30-man class of 2013 commitments ranks ninth on ESPN’s team rankings, while they ranked fifth earlier this year and sixth in 2011. (David Ching, ESPN)
The rumor of Garner’s possible departure surfaced late Wednesday afternoon, but coach Richt chose not to comment on it when asked after Thursday’s practice.
Garner is making a lateral move to Auburn as he will have the same exact role there as he as did at Georgia. Here’s what Garner had to say about his decision to accept the position at Auburn:
“Auburn has always been a very special place for me and my wife, Kimberly, who is also an Auburn graduate,” Garner said. “I owe a lot to Auburn and the men who helped mold me to who I am today both professionally and personally. I’m very appreciative to Coach Malzahn for this opportunity and I feel very strongly that I can be an asset to the program. 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.” (Gentry Estes, Dawgs247)
I had one reaction to that statement…alrighty, then.
So, he spent the last decade or so with Georgia, but “owes” a lot to Auburn for the man he is today—professionally? I don’t know about y’all, but that sounds like a guy who isn’t leaving under the best of terms. Perhaps my earlier speculation of all not being rosy between he and Todd Grantham wasn’t as far off-base as I thought.
That said, Georgia will have the difficult task of finding a new defensive line coach before ‘National Signing Day’ as well as appointing a new Recruiting Coordinator (I suspect this position will be given in-house). Chances are strong that defensive coordinator Todd Grantham may already have a guy in mind to fill that slot for the Bulldogs. Look for names to begin surfacing sooner, rather than later.
As far as recruiting goes, Garner was a key element in Georgia’s success, but do not underestimate the talents of both the offensive coordinator Mike Bobo and running backs coach Bryan McClendon on that front either. That said, keep an ear out for how guys like Montravius Adams (who now says that Auburn will definitely get an official visit, likely his last one), Reuben Foster, and Toby Johnson react to Garner’s departure. Foster’s reaction could be of interest here as his focus on relationships makes this a great hire for Auburn (Garner has a long relationship with Foster).
In the short-term, this looks like a questionable move that could hurt Georgia down the line, but until we see how the total story develops, I’d say it’s best not to panic.
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