Thursday night's news that long-time defensive line coach and recruiting coordinator Rodney Garner is leaving Georgia for a similar role at Auburn comes as a at least small surprise to many.
Garner was at UGA for 14 years before making the transition back to his alma mater on The Plains, and while it will likely take some time before it is known how his departure affects the play of Georgia's defensive line, it could be felt right away in recruiting.
Garner is listed as the recruiter of record for two of Georgia's three-star recruits in Sandy Creek defensive back Shaquille Wiggins and Alpharetta defensive end Naim Mustafaa.
Neither of those prospects projected to play for Garner at the next level, as defensive backs coach Scott Lakatos will coach Wiggins if he signs with Georgia and Mustafaa would likely play for outside linebackers coach and defensive coordinator Todd Grantham.
Both recruits have developed bonds with their position coaches and Garner's departure shouldn't have a major effect on either recruit.
One recruit that could have been majorly affected before he signed his letter of intent is recent nose tackle signee Chris Mayes. Garner had been recruiting Mayes since he originally signed with the Bulldogs in 2011, and was in contact with the three-star JUCO as recently as yesterday.
Hargrave Military (Chatham, Va.) defensive lineman John Atkins is another prospect with which Garner has been mentioned quite a bit, but Atkins is set to enroll at Georgia as soon as January and has been vocal about his desire to get back to UGA. It is doubtful that losing Garner would impact the newly minted four-star prep school prospect.
While none of Georgia's committed prospects will be greatly impacted by the coaching change, two uncommitted prospects will likely be most affected in Dooly County defensive lineman Montravius Adams and Hutchinson Community College (Hutchinson, Kan.) defensive lineman Toby Johnson.
Johnson has told UGASports on multiple occasions that he and Garner are very close, and the former UGA defensive line coach has been the primary recruiter for Johnson since the Bulldogs offered this summer.
Adams, who is arguably the top target left on Georgia's recruiting board, has also developed a relationship with Garner and the fact that the UGA defensive line coach position is vacant certainly hurts the Bulldogs chances for the five-star talent in the short term.
The charge for Georgia is now to fill that spot as quickly as possible, and there are a number of different ways to do that.
Georgia could also opt to make a quick hire to fill the position and let the new coach pick up where Garner left off with Johnson, Adams, and the committed recruits who had built a relationship with the former coach.
One thing is for sure, things could get interesting in the next few weeks.
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