Posted: 1:39 am Tuesday, May 27th, 2014

Rodney Garner’s relationship wins over top recruit 

By Michael Carvell

Recruiting is all about the relationships.

DaVonte Lambert, who was rated as the nation’s No. 1 prospect at strong-side defensive end out of junior college, built his relationship with Auburn defensive line coach Rodney Garner several years ago.

As a senior at Burke County High School in 2012, Lambert was a non-qualifier academically but Garner – who then worked at UGA – still brought in Lambert on an official visit with the Bulldogs.

Former UGA assistant Rodney Garner is now Auburn's defensive line coach (AP)

Former UGA assistant Rodney Garner is now Auburn’s defensive line coach (AP)

The longstanding relationship was a major reason why Lambert flipped from Tennessee to Auburn on signing day this past December, and also turned down scholarship offers from UGA and Florida, among others.

“I’ve been knowing Coach Garner for a while, since he was at Georgia,” Lambert said. “Me and Coach Garner, we are real close. I’ve known him since I was in high school. We have a really good relationship.”

Lambert, who just finished up at Georgia Military junior college, is so tight with Garner that he admits that he would’ve signed with UGA if Garner was still coaching there.

“I can say yes,” Lambert said. “I can definitely say yes because Coach Garner – that’s my man right there.”

Here’s the rest of the Q&A with DaVonte Lambert:

Which school finished runner-up to Auburn? “Tennessee finished second.” What could Tennessee have done better? “They did everything right. It was just some things … there was some misunderstandings about some things that could’ve been fixed.” What was the misunderstanding about? “It was just some minor things. I can’t really name one of them.”

What was the most creative thing a college did to get your attention? “Auburn returning that field goal for six points to beat Alabama got my attention. I went to that game.” What about stuff colleges sent to you in the mail? “Tennessee used to send me big envelopes with pictures of me in the jersey with my number on it. That was really entertaining.”

What was the biggest recruiting rumor about you that wasn’t true? “There were a lot of rumors, but the most disrespectful one I can say is when Tennessee fans were calling me a ‘back-stabber.’ They were calling me that when I flipped over from Tennessee to Auburn. You know, they just called me names. I’m not a back-stabber and I’m not disrespectful. I was raised in a good home with my mother and my grandmother. So I just let it go through one ear and out the other.”

Former Burke County High School star DaVonte Lambert (247sports)

Former Burke County High School star DaVonte Lambert (247sports)

What was your biggest secret? “My decision to go with Auburn. I kind of knew that I was going to go Auburn after the Alabama-Auburn game but I just didn’t know how to tell anyone at the time. So I just waited until signing day.”

Funniest thing that Auburn’s Gus Malzhan said to you during the recruiting process? “Coach Malzhan, he always jokes. There are a lot of jokes he has said to me. I can’t really remember them.”

Funniest thing that Tennessee’s Butch Jones said to you? “They came up with a slogan when I visited Tennessee because I had this Nike shirt on. It was ‘Just do it.’ They kept on calling me ‘Just do it’ after I left, and Coach Jones would write that on my letters to me. That was kind of funny.”

How about UGA’s Mark Richt? Did he ever say anything that made you laugh? “No sir.”

At one point, you had listed UGA as leader. What happened there? “It got serious at a point but then it just went downhill. During my visit, it was serious. But after that, everything just went downhill. They were in touch with me, but I just knew that it wasn’t going to be the team for me. I just thought I had better options.”

What was the funniest thing that happened on your Auburn official visit? “At Auburn, Coach Garner always comes up with nicknames for the players that he’s coaching. And it’s just funny how all the names fit the person. I’m always wondering what nickname he is going to give me.”

Which coach was the hardest to turn down? “I can say Coach Garner. With his background and everything, it’s hard to say no to him.” But you said yes to him, right? “Yes, I said yes to him. I couldn’t tell Coach Garner no.” Which non-Auburn coach was hardest to turn down? “I can say Coach Jones. I called Coach Jones after I signed with Auburn but nobody answered. That was pretty hard situation because Coach Jones is a pretty laid-back coach. (Switching schools) was just part of recruiting. I don’t think there’s any hard feelings, or I hope there’s not.”

Which school disappointed you the most during the recruiting process? “I can say LSU. When I was in high school, LSU wanted me to go to this community college in Kansas. I didn’t go, and I never heard from LSU again.”

How much negative recruiting was out there? “There was a lot of that, especially from the fans. All the fans were basically putting down every other school, especially the Tennessee fans and the Florida fans. They were putting down each other’s schools really bad. There was a lot of trash talk.”

What was the reaction on Twitter when you flipped? “Oh, man. Tennessee fans were going absolutely crazy on me. But I don’t really pay attention to that kind of stuff. I don’t let things like that get to me because fans are going to be fans. They are crazy about their school, so they’re going to say what’s on their mind. I just took it in, and didn’t really worry about it. I just worry about football.”

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90 comments
shep2121
shep2121

U know. Garner must not have been treated right at UGA.  Probably got tired of  not getting anywhere.  Being passed over.  He was so quiet the past few years and then goes to AUBURN and then turns into a lion again.  Too Bad!

keendaddy
keendaddy

BTW, good morning gentlemen, and Bob....

AlternativeDawg
AlternativeDawg

Mark Richt's biggest flaw is he typically goes after that one big high profile recruit on the lines like Lorenzo Carter or Theus a couple years back. He needs to sign numbers as well. Sign 5 linemen on both sides a year. You win the game in the trenches and Auburn has a HUGE advantage over us on both lines. No necessarily on the starting lineup but in the overall depth.

keendaddy
keendaddy

I'm just surprised that my Tech friends even have an opinion on this subject. Never saw Tech mentioned anywhere in the above article. Oh yeah, it's a Recruiting blog, lol. Obviously, that means that we need your expert opinion on the pitiful state of UGA football. Hmmmmmmmmmmm, I guess talking about Georgia Football, beats talking about Tech Football any day! More Techies on here than Dawgs. I'll be glad when real football stories are back in the news...

gtcaryd
gtcaryd

Sounds like CRG is working hard for his money now, that's good for him and Auburn. Trublu4au, i don't know what your rambling on about.

LEE3333
LEE3333

And here come all the haters........Garner is bad.....blah blah blah

Trublu4au
Trublu4au

Oh it's so nice watching Florida fans and Georgia Tech fans defend Auburn. It must be raining cats and dogs. Remember Gators and Yellow Jackets we USED to be your rival too. Thank you SEC expansion for destroying that for us /sarcasm. That's right Florida just check and see who you've played the most in your history besides the leghumpers. Hint: It ain't FSU. Same for you Yellowjackets.


But since the jackets and gators are steppin' up to the plate for mean ole "dirty" Auburn, I come in peace to you today. Not that you need to stick up for Auburn, though, we Auburn fans enjoy listening to the leghumpers whine. We rarely need to respond to them. They do a big enough job of embarrassing themselves without our help.

Teehee! Watch this...... NICK FAIRLEY! 

So without further adou, I figured I'd join the fray and give these sorry leghumpers a taste of reality.

Georgia is the most underachieving school in the SEC and probably the country save for Texas. Sorry jacket fans but Georgia literally has an entire state to themselves unlike Florida and Auburn. When it comes to the talent rich state of Georgia, well they are the state school with all its attendant benefits. They literally have their pick of the litter when it comes to recruiting. Georgia almost always finishes in the top 10 or near that in recruiting every year for at least the past 10 years now. What do they have to show for it? Nothing much. Squandering talent is Georgia's MO. Remember THIS is the school that recruited Cam Newton as a freakin tight end. This is the same school that thought Nick Marshall was better at playing DB. No wonder they suck so bad!


Meanwhile teams like Florida, Auburn, and yes even Georgia Tech have won more recent National championships than Georgia. These teams have did that DESPITE facing a bigger uphill battle when it comes to recruiting. Take Auburn for example, we literally have to fight tooth and nail with Alabama every year for the few cherished recruits that the less populous state of Alabama furnishes. And yet in spite of that Auburn has won the SEC 3 times in the last 10 years. More so than any team in the conference. In spite of that since 1992 when the SEC first expanded Auburn has went undefeated 3 times. More so than the rest of the SEC combined. We've even won some NC's. But, I'm not bragging about Auburn but rather, merely making a point of what we've accomplished vs. what the leghumpers have accomplished even though the leghumpers are in a more advantageous position than us.


The same can be said of Florida. Look at all the NC's Florida has won. And yet, Florida has had to do this while fighting off Miami and FSU as well as upstarts like USF and UCF in their own state for recruits.


Even Georgia Tech as stated earlier who really has no built in advantages in their own state has managed an NC more recently than Georgia.


What does it all mean for Georgia? One word. UNDERACHIEVER!


Whine on leghumpers and suck it! 


WAR DAMN EAGLE!

POAD2014
POAD2014

How many more years do the Dogs get to blame Rodney? When is it on Richt's shoulders alone?

TampGator1
TampGator1

Funny that he mentioned Florida fans because I do not remember Florida recruiting this kid very heavily, or at least his name was not mentioned much as a key target by the recruiting sites that report on Florida recruiting.  I do remember Florida going hard after the kid from Louisiana that signed with Florida as a strong side DE.  Don't remember this kids name at all.  But JC kids do get into Auburn and Tennessee a lot easier than they do at Florida....or Alabama even (since a JC DT recruit....J. Reed......who first committed to Florida and failed to gain entry into Florida had no issues getting into Bama).   

GTBob
GTBob

The fact that Garner is doing such a good job at Auburn after finishing up so poorly at UGA is a pretty clear indictment on UGA and on Richt. I wonder why the guy had less success and motivation in Athens?  

Nate-the-Great
Nate-the-Great

@Trublu4au I like how you talk about those 3 undefeated seasons, more than any other SEC school.  Do you guys have more MNC than anyone else or at least tied for the lead in most MNCs over that time period?  No. Why is that?  Quit cheatin' cheaters!!!

Snagglepuss
Snagglepuss

@Trublu4au 


"These teams  have  D I D that".    Moron with a single digit IQ!!(aka BARN FAN/STUDENT)


I bet my entire fortune that U izz  a  BARN dropout because it is quite obvious that you are dumb enough to be  T R I P L E T S!!!!!!!!!!!!


LMFWAO

Snagglepuss
Snagglepuss

@Trublu4au 


I believe it was the  W A R C H I C K E N S  doing most of the whining 6 of the last 8 years(would have been 7 of the last 8 but apparently God was pissed at somebody in DawgNation  in 2013) but the only 2 of the last 8 games were won because BARN hired thieves who had been booted from

other SEC teams for stealing.  If Lowder-Mouth ever runs out of money BARN will sink like the Titanic!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Snagglepuss
Snagglepuss

@POAD2014 


That really shouldn't  be one of your concerns M O T O R    M O U T H !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

slaughdog
slaughdog

@PaulaSidey You "brave keyboard jocks", I got money that says, you would NOT make the same statement to his face. You better pray 10 yaers from now, you might be picking up his trash. Grown men talking about high scool / college kids, what a "sharp knife" you are, inbred b@#ch.

TampGator1
TampGator1

@GTBob 


I do not recall any year in recent years (last 5 or so) where Georgia did not have a top recruiting class, with or without Garner.  But I do know it is a lot easier for football players to get into Auburn vs. Georgia.  Maybe that has something to do with Garner's recent success with JC transfers. 

C-Kirk
C-Kirk

@GTBob

Because Richt has rules that his Coaches have to follow. Auburn has no rules. Their philosophy is do whatever it takes. 

FlatTire
FlatTire

@GTBob  Good point;  I just wonder when you will have some good points about Tech

96JB
96JB

@GTBob The answer to your question is Grantham.A large, loud mouth rough around around the edges guy with a big mouth and was paid FOUR times what Garner was making, thus Garner, after 10+ years of loyal service felt screwed. Garner quit when Grantham got there.

GTBob
GTBob

@TampGator1 Sorry, but UGA has a couple of recruits every year who are borderline on meeting minimum NCAA requirements and they are known to take a large number of special admissions. I have trouble believing that there is any player in the country that Auburn could take that UGA couldn't. 

TampGator1
TampGator1

@C-Kirk

Seriously doubt that as truth.  But I have no doubt at all that your post above is your biased view of the truth.

GTBob
GTBob

@C-Kirk Yep, and they have won a NC and played in another one in the last 5 years. That do whatever it takes mentality seems to be working. 

96JB
96JB

@FlatTire @GTBob Lot's of publications saying this will be Johnson's last year at Tech. Any of you Tech guys hearing the same?

Snagglepuss
Snagglepuss

@POAD2014 @Snagglepuss 


I tried G O O G L E  but  under J. Carter  it showed nothing but "G O O FY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


And under POAD  it only showed "A L S O   G O O F Y"

POAD2014
POAD2014

@Snagglepuss you really should not be stupid when you post. Try Google and LEARN before you post.


After high school, Carter enrolled at Georgia Southwestern College, in Americus. Later, he applied to the United States Naval Academy and, after taking additional mathematics courses at Georgia Tech, he was admitted in 1943. Carter graduated 59th out of 820 midshipmen at the Naval Academy with a Bachelor of Science degree with an unspecified major, as was the custom at the academy at that time.

POAD2014
POAD2014

@Snagglepuss do more and better research because actually he graduated from the US Naval Academy

Snagglepuss
Snagglepuss

@FlatTire @GTBob 


Need to add the quotation mark at the end of the quote so POAD will understand where the quote ended


Go Dawgs!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Snagglepuss
Snagglepuss

@GTBob @FlatTire 


Didn't the GREAT  JIMMY  CARTER graduate from Bunglebee U???  Remember him???  The  worst President ever of the USA................until Obama(aka the Great Community Organizer)

showed up!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

GTBob
GTBob

@FlatTire Business Admin at GT isn't Mechanical Engineering by any means but it isn't an easy major and probably isn't the easiest major they could major in. Quite frankly, if they are going to major in one of the tougher majors then they are probably going to have to give up football. It's simply too time consuming. Not everyone can be like Sean Bedford.

FlatTire
FlatTire

@GTBob  in other words its the easiest program to keep them eligible

GTBob
GTBob

@FlatTire It is the best option for football players who are otherwise undecided. We have a great tutoring system setup for that major, it opens a lot of networking opportunities for them, and they get to work together with their teammates. There is nothing wrong with the major and it is one of the top programs in the country in one of the top business cities in the country. It isn't a joke major.

FlatTire
FlatTire

@GTBob  you dont have that many degree programs so business is the best option right?

GTBob
GTBob

@FlatTire What exactly is wrong with Business? This may shock you but that is an actual major with actual other students at GT. Its not the Housing, or Leisure Studies garbage that you shove your athletes into.

FlatTire
FlatTire

@GTBob again when your 70% of your student athlete isnt enrolled in business then you have a point

FlatTire
FlatTire

@GTBob  oh its not that way at FSU Miami Ok Texas USC UNC Florida VT etc

sure

GTBob
GTBob

@FlatTire Oh give me a break. Almost everyone on your team is special admits but because GT allows 3-4 a year both teams are equal. Yeah, it doesn't quite work like that. As long as a kid can meet the bottom of the barrel NCAA requirements he can play football at UGA. Sorry to tell you that it isn't quite that way elsewhere. 

FlatTire
FlatTire

@POAD2014  @BOB sorry to inform you but you cant talk about what you do if you dont do it 100% of the time

oh and 70% of Tech athletes in the business school only shows your program is doing what every other school does to keep their players eligible



POAD2014
POAD2014

@FlatTire 21 GT players compared to 70+/- UGa players over the same time period leaves nothing to say to defend UGa STUDENT athletes.

GTBob
GTBob

@FlatTire Yep, when you single out the small group of special admits that we accepted into GT they don't have great high school numbers. Shocker huh? How about this article? 

http://www.usnews.com/education/blogs/paper-trail/2008/12/30/athletes-show-huge-gaps-in-sat-scores

Here is a key section:

"Georgia Tech had the nation's best average SAT score for football players, 1028 of a possible 1600, and best average high school GPA, 3.39 of a possible 4.0. "

Here is another good section:

"Many schools routinely used a special admissions process to admit athletes who did not meet the normal entrance requirements. More than half of scholarship athletes at the University of Georgia, the University of Wisconsin, Clemson University, UCLA, Rutgers University, Texas A&M University and Louisiana State University were special admits. . . At Georgia, for instance, 73.5 percent of athletes were special admits compared with 6.6 percent of the student body as a whole."

FlatTire
FlatTire

@GTBob This was a fun read

"The Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics, a watchdog group, has expressed concern about institutions lowering academic requirements for many athletes but not for comparable numbers of other students who might be artists or dancers, or possess other skills.

Some of the schools' records hint at the steep challenges faced by special admits to keep pace when their academic qualifications are notably lower than other entering students.

In March, Georgia Tech issued a news release announcing that the average high school GPA for all students accepted for the fall semester was 3.9.

The academic profile of a group of 21 Georgia Tech special-admit football players from recent years looked much different. They had a combined average high school GPA of 2.19, according to an "athletes historical report" provided in March in response to an open-records request. The players entered the university between 2005 and last year.

Five special-admit men's basketball players listed in Georgia Tech's report had high school GPAs ranging from 2.16 to 2.42. The group's SAT critical reading scores averaged 476, and its SAT math scores averaged 454.

LOL only top notch academics play for Tech LOL

GTBob
GTBob

@FlatTire How many of your football players are enrolled in your business program? Also, yes many schools use special admits but very few of them use as many for their football team as UGA. Here are some schools from the 2008 report and their percentage of special admits: Cal 95%, TA&M 94%, UGA 94%, FSU 65%, Bama 21%, Auburn 12%, GT 9%. Cal was the only school in the study with more special admits than UGA.

FlatTire
FlatTire

@GTBob  UGA has graduated CEO's Governors and other famous people

and there are numerous schools who use special admits

GTBob
GTBob

@FlatTire Yeah, that horrible business school that is ranked top 30 in the country, has graduated many CEO's, and just received the largest donation in the history of the school. That is our hiding spot. You figured us out.

FlatTire
FlatTire

@TampGator1 Tech just puts their players in the Business school to keep them eligible

TampGator1
TampGator1

@GTBob


Because of the unwavering math and science basic requirements, I believe. Tech will not give an inch with those....and why they are having a hard time competing in football vs. Georgia.  But, I also think it is coaching.  Not a fan of Johnson at all.  He should be coaching at a much smaller school, or should have stayed at Navy. 

GTBob
GTBob

@FlatTire Tech fans have no problem with the Stanford example. They are on a really good run right now and still have a worse record than Tech in the last 10 years. I guess they just weren't trying before.

GTBob
GTBob

@TampGator1 Special Admissions are not students that wouldn't be accepted under normal circumstances. Special admissions are students who do not meet a schools predefined baseline limits on incoming students who have a chance at succeeding. In 2008 the Indianapolis Star did a study about the number of special admissions at each school. 94% of UGAs players were special admits vs 9% of GTs players.

TampGator1
TampGator1

@GTBob


Yes, a lot of high school recruits are given special admission....even at Georgia Tech.  I doubt the majority of the Tech football players would have gained normal admission to GT if they were not football players, and I doubt most of them are carrying the academic load of a normal student at Tech.  But, the math/science entrance requirements do derail a bunch of potential football players before and after they are recruited to Tech.  Georgia does not face that recruiting challenge for sure.  But Stanford has even higher entrance requirements for athletes and they are doing very well in most sports.  

GTBob
GTBob

@96JB From what I have heard, there is very little chance CPJ isn't the coach in 2015. It would take a catastrophic season.

FlatTire
FlatTire

@96JB  I hope not; he has done a great job against poor UGA teams