Garner, a native of Leeds, Ala., where he was a high school star, brings a wealth of college experience as he returns to his alma mater.
"We are 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."
Garner, who was captain of Auburn's 1988 SEC Championship team, said, "Auburn has always been a very special place for me and my wife, Kimberly, who is also an Auburn graduate. 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," Garner added. "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."
An All-SEC and honorable mention All-American as a senior at Auburn, Garner was a three-year starter for the Tigers on the offensive line.
Following a short stint of professional football he returned to Auburn in 1990 as an assistant strength coach before moving on the field as a coach. Before he left following the 1995 season he was coaching the tight ends and was the recruiting coordinator for the Tigers.
Moving to Tennessee in 1996 he coached the tight ends for the Vols that season before switching to coach the offensive tackles the next year. In 1998 he made the move to another SEC school as he was hired as the defensive line coach and recruiting coordinator at Georgia in 1998.
Known for his recruiting prowess, Garner has helped Georgia to seven Top 10 ranked recruiting finishes in the last 11 years, including four years in which the Bulldogs finished in the top five.
On the field he has been a big part of what Georgia has accomplished on defense with first-round NFL draft choices Richard Seymour, Marcus Stroud, Charles Grant and Johnathan Sullivan thriving under his tutelage. He also coached Geno Atkins, a player that has flourished this season for the Cincinnati Bengals and is in the running for NFL Defensive Player of the Year.
In 2005 Garner added the title of Assistant Head Coach under Mark Richt. In his time at Georgia working for Richt, he helped the Bulldogs to a record of 117-40, two SEC Championships, five SEC Eastern Division titles, seven bowl wins and six Top 10 finishes in the Associated Press poll.
The Garners have six children--Bridgett (26), Brielle (15), Jaiden (11), Kai (10), and Sydney and Milan (8). His wife is a 1988 Auburn graduate.
In 2012 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 points per contest).
The 2003 Georgia defense finished second nationally in scoring defense (14.5 points per game), fourth in total defense (276.86 yards per game) and sixth in passing defense (174.50 yards per game) while helping the Bulldogs to a divisional title.
He worked with the 2002 UGA defense that finished first in the SEC and fourth nationally in scoring defense (15.1 points per game), first in the SEC in red zone defense (58.8 percent) and second in the SEC in rushing defense (114.0 yards). The Bulldogs finished 13-1 that year, won the SEC and Nokia Sugar Bowl Championships and were ranked third in the final national polls.
Garner is the third defensive coach hired by Malzahn following coordinator Ellis Johnson and secondary coach Charlie Harbison.
Coordinator and quarterback coach Rhett Lashlee was the first hire for Malzahn's offensive staff. On Wednesday the Tigers hired J.B. Grimes to coach the offensive line.