Signing Day Winner: Rodney Garner, Auburn
Head coaches may get the glory at the press conferences, but its the assistant coaches whose year-round grind that builds the relationships that ultimately make National Signing Day either a success or failure. Today, we’re recognizing some assistants whose hard work paid off with huge Signing Day hauls.-CoachScoop (Note: These profiles are focused on assistants who had particular success on National Signing Day. We’ll release our ranking of the naton’s top recruiters later this week.)
[dropcap]W[/dropcap]hen Rodney Garner left Georgia to join Gus Malzahn’s staff at Auburn, lots of Bulldog fans said there was nothing to worry about. The 46-year old Garner was getting long in the tooth and had lost the energy that made him one of the nation’s elite recruiters for more than two decades, they said.
On Signing Day, Garner showed everyone just how wrong they were.
Garner hauled in five-star defensive tackle Montravius Adams (6-4, 310) from Dooly County High in Vienna, Ga. – beating his former school – and flipped consensus four-star defensive end Elijah Daniel (6-4, 250) from Ole Miss.
Adams is the nation’s No. 10 recruit according to the 247Composite rankings, which averages rankings across the major recruiting services. Auburn was in great position to land Adams before the Tigers’ 3-9 season and the firing of the entire coaching staff. With the turmoil at Auburn, Clemson and Georgia then pulled way out front, and in recent weeks, it looked like the Bulldogs were the favorite.
Enter Garner, who had developed a strong relationship with Adams when he was at Georgia. After an official visit to Auburn last weekend, the Tigers were firmly back in the mix, and were ultimately able to land him on Signing Day.
Daniel is the nation’s No. 50 recruit in the 247Composite. Daniel was born in Alabama and moved to Indiana in the third grade, and took a national approach to recruiting before focusing his sights on the SEC. He took official visits to Marshall (where his brother Armonze plays), Ole Miss and Arizona State before committing to the Rebels.
Daniel wasn’t even mentioned as a possibility for Auburn before Garner’s arrival, but Garner was relentless in working to get an official visit, and he ultimately dropped a planned visit to Florida and went to Auburn the final weekend before Signing Day.
That hard work paid off for Garner and the Tigers on Wednesday when Daniel spurned his pledge to the Rebels and inked with Auburn.
Garner also played a key role in Auburn landing five-star defensive end Carl Lawson, the nation’s No. 21-ranked prospect. Lawson committed to Auburn early in the process, but like most of the Tiger commits, he began to look around following the coaching staff’s departure.
Since Georgia chose not recruit the 6-foot-3, 245-pound Alpharetta, Ga. product until late in the process, Garner’s hiring was initially thought to be a liability with Lawson, but Garner worked hard to mend fences with Lawson and his family, and the Tigers were able to hang on. Lawson re-affirmed his commitment to the Tigers on Monday.
Even though Signing Day has passed, Garner’s impact on the 2013 class could be bigger still. He is lead recruiter for four-star defensive tackle Toby Johnson (6-4, 305) of Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College. Johnson, who visited Auburn officially last weekend, will go to Mississippi State next weekend before announcing his decision on Feb. 19.
Auburn’s class is currently ranked No. 10 by Rivals.com. It began the day No. 13.