ATHENS, Ga. -- With less than seven weeks left until national signing day, Georgia has lost its recruiting coordinator.
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 as assistant head coach/defensive line coach on Gus Malzahn's new Tigers staff.
Garner was an All-SEC offensive lineman at Auburn in 1988 and served as recruiting coordinator, tight ends coach and assistant strength and conditioning coach for the Tigers from 1990-95. He spent the 1996-97 seasons at Tennessee before joining Jim Donnan's UGA staff in 1998, and he has been the Bulldogs' recruiting coordinator since.
Garner, also the Bulldogs' defensive line coach and assistant head coach, was in his 15th 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.
Largely because of his reputation as a recruiter, Garner's name has circulated in connection with several job openings in recent years, including LSU, Auburn and Tennessee. He also interviewed with the New Orleans Saints in 2006 before opting to stay at UGA.
Mark Richt's coaching staff now will have to adapt to Garner's absence in order to keep its recruiting class intact with national signing day rapidly approaching. With Georgia well below its 85-man limit, this sizable class that could number in the mid-30s is particularly important because of the need to replenish the team's roster depth.