Malzahn's Coaching Staff Coming Together

New Auburn head football coach Gus Malzahn has five of his on-the-field coaches hired plus other staff members on the job.

Auburn, Ala.--Gus Malzahn's third defensive coaching staff hire and fifth overall for his new Auburn football staff, Rodney Garner, won't take long to get adjusted to his new surroundings.

A standout player for the Tigers in the 1980s, Garner is returning to his alma mater to be defensive line coach, recruiting coordinator and assistant head coach.

Garner and his wife Kim, who is also an Auburn graduate and a former Tigerette recruiting hostess, toured the football complex on Friday and checked out the many changes that have taken place in recent years.

Malzahn, who was there with a group of Garner's college teammates to greet the couple when they arrived on Friday from Athens, Ga., notes he is glad to have the former University of Georgia coach as part of his staff.

"I said I was going to take my time and hire the right guy for each position that has the right character--a great coach, a great recruiter," Malzahn says. "We hired one of the best in the business right here in Rodney Garner.

"He's an Auburn man," Malzahn adds. "You can see his teammates are here, a very special moment right now."

Malzahn, who was host for a meet and greet with the Auburn Letterman's Club at Jordan-Hare Stadium just five days after he was hired as head coach, says having a good relationship with the former players is a high priority.

"It is important to me to get to know them," Malzahn says. "I?know a lot of them already. They are very important to our success. It was exciting to me to be around those guys and feel their passion and excitement for the university."

Malzahn says it is a good thing to have one of the former players on his staff. "He has been here, he has done that," the head coach says of Garner. "He takes great pride and talking with him got me excited. I know how special this place is.

"He is going to be a great example for players," Malzahn adds. "He is a former player that has been successful (at Auburn) and that helped make him into the man he is today. I think that is great for our players and will be a great asset for us."

Malzahn notes that the Tigers will hire one more assistant coach for the defensive side of the ball, but adds he isn't sure if that coach will work with the linebackers or become a second defensive backs coach or a second line coach. Defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson may coach the linebackers, something he has substantial experience doing, but that assignment is still to be determined.

"We are putting together the pieces to the puzzle, one by one," Malzahn says. "I think it is very important that we get the right fit. When we hired Coach Johnson, I wanted him to have some ownership in the positions. We are close to filling the defensive positions. We will keep all those factors in mind.

"We have a little flexibility there," Malzahn adds. "We are trying to find the right fit. We are trying to get that done in the near future. Right now, Coach Johnson is trying to figure out what is the best fit. We do have one left on the defensive side."

Auburn hired Charlie Harbison from Clemson to coach the defensive backs. Rhett Lashlee, who was Malzahn's offensive coordinator at Arkansas State, made the move to Auburn with the head coach as did ASU offensive line coach J.B. Grimes.

In addition, two members of the previous AU staff, director of football operations Scott Fountain and offensive quality control coach Al Pogue, have been working for Malzahn, who put both coaches on the road as recruiters.

The limit for on-the-field, full-time assistant coaches is nine. Malzahn has yet to hire position coaches for the running backs, receivers or tight ends or for special teams.

Coaching Staff Candidates, Discussion

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