Print and Go Back ESPN.com: SEC [Print without images]

Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Georgia's Garner more than just a recruiter

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

It’s obvious that Rodney Garner isn’t going to be Georgia’s next defensive coordinator.

If he was the guy, Mark Richt would have already promoted him.

But Garner, who’s long been considered one of the SEC’s best recruiters, proved in the AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl victory over Texas A&M that he also knows a thing or two about putting together a defensive game plan.

With Richt firing defensive coordinator Willie Martinez and two other defensive assistants prior to the bowl game, the Bulldogs were down to just Garner and a couple of graduate assistants -- Todd Hartley and Mitch Doolittle -- on the defensive side.

Texas A&M rolled up 471 yards of total offense, but most of those came between the 20s. The Aggies only scored 14 meaningful points. Their final touchdown came with 1:13 to play and Georgia leading 44-14.

The Bulldogs were able to get pressure on Texas A&M quarterback Jerrod Johnson when it counted. They sacked him twice and forced him into several bad throws in the second half.

Garner, who just completed his 12th season at Georgia, told reporters after the game he would certainly consider staying at Georgia if the next defensive coordinator wanted him and if it was a good fit. Garner reiterated those same thoughts to me Tuesday.

No coach wants to be pigeonholed as just a recruiter, and that’s probably the tag that has been unfairly placed upon Garner.

Go back and look at the number and caliber of defensive linemen he’s put in the NFL, and the Bulldogs have three senior tackles on this team who all have chances to be drafted.

The chief reason Garner considered joining Lane Kiffin’s staff at Tennessee last season was the chance to work under Monte Kiffin. If Garner is going to continue to grow in this profession, it might be time for him to move on.

But whether he’s at Georgia next season or somewhere else, he’s shown that he’s much more than just a recruiter.