AUBURN—Former Auburn player and coach, Rodney Garner, has been named assistant head coach and defensive line coach at his alma mater, head coach Gus Malzahn announced Thursday. Garner, who was an All-SEC player at Auburn in 1988 and coached on the Plains from 1990-95, will also serve as recruiting coordinator. Garner spent the previous 12 years at the University of Georgia where he served in a similar capacity.
"We excited to announce Rodney Garner as our assistant head coach and defensive line coach," Malzahn said. "Rodney is one of the top defensive line coaches in college football who has had great success in the Southeastern Conference. We're excited to welcome an Auburn man back home."
A native of Leeds, Ala., Garner was named All-SEC and honorable mention All-America offensive lineman as a senior at Auburn in 1988. He also captained his team that captured the 1988 SEC Championship.
"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."
As a coach for the Tigers, Garner served in several capacities on the Auburn staff from 1990-95 including recruiting coordinator, tight ends coach, and assistant strength and conditioning coach.
During his 12 years at Georgia, he has been part of a staff that led UGA to 117 victories, two SEC championships, five SEC Eastern Division titles, seven bowl victories, and six top ten finishes in the final national polls including No. 2 in 2007 and No. 3 in 2002.
He added the title of assistant head coach at Georgia in 2005 after serving as defensive line coach and recruiting coordinator at Georgia since January, 1998.
This past season, Garner helped the Bulldogs to an 11-2 record, the SEC Eastern Division title and a berth in the Capital One Bowl. The Georgia defense ranked 17th nationally in scoring defense, allowing just 18.7 points per game. He was part of the 2005 Georgia team that finished eighth nationally in scoring defense (16.4 ppg).
The 2003 Georgia defense finished second nationally in scoring defense (14.5 ppg), fourth in total defense (276.86 ypg), sixth in passing defense (174.50 ypg, 1st in the SEC), while helping the Bulldogs to a divisional title.
He helped coach the 2002 Bulldog defense that finished first in the SEC and fourth nationally in scoring defense (15.1 ppg), first in the SEC in red zone defense (58.8%) and second in the SEC in rushing defense (114.0 ypg). The 2002 Bulldogs finished 13-1, won the SEC and Nokia Sugar Bowl Championships, and were ranked third in the final national polls.
Garner participated in the inaugural Minority Coaches Forum in Scottsdale, Ariz., in May, 2006. He was also selected one of 10 coaches from throughout the country to participate in the 2004 NCAA Expert Coaching Academy in Indianapolis and one of only 20 chosen for the NCAA's 2004 Advanced Coaching Academy in Orlando.
In the past 12 seasons, he has coached four NFL first round draft choices -- Richard Seymour (Patriots) and Marcus Stroud (Jaguars), both Pro Bowl starters; Charles Grant (Saints); and Johnathan Sullivan (Saints). He has also coached DeAngelo Tyson (7th, Ravens, '12), Corvey Irvin (3rd, Panthers, '09), Kedric Golston (6th, Redskins, '06), Emarlos Leroy (6th, Jaguars, '99), and free agent linemen Ken Veal (Chargers, '04), Paul Snellings (Colts, 2000), and Brandon Miller (Colts, 2000).
Garner coached tight ends and offensive tackles at Tennessee in 1997 after coaching tight ends for the Volunteers in 1996. He began his coaching career at Auburn in 1990.
After his playing career at Auburn, Garner had a free agent tryout with the NFL's Tampa Bay Buccaneers and played with the Pittsburgh Gladiators arena football team in1989.
Garner was an outstanding high school player at Leeds High School receiving many national, state, and local honors. He is married to Kimberly Lawson Garner, an 1988 Auburn graduate. They have six children, Bridgett (26), Brielle (15), Jaiden (11), Kai (10), and Sydney and Milan (8 years).