He was a part of some of the most glorious years of Auburn Football – the decade of the eighties. It was a time when the Tigers dominated the South Eastern Conference. From 1983 – 1988 the Tigers had the fourth highest winning percentage in the nation.
He played on two SEC Championships and was captain of the team that came with in one point of playing Notre Dame for the national championship in 1988.
Many great players stand out from that ’88 squad. It was a team that had three All-Americans: Tracy Rocker-DT, Benji Roland-DT, and Walter Reeves-TE.
Twelve players were named to All-SEC teams including Reggie Slack-QB, Quentin Riggins-LB, Tracy Rocker-DT, Benji Roland-DT, Carlo Cheattom-CB, Stacy Danley-RB, Walter Reeves-TE, Ron Stallworth-DT, Jim Thompson-OL, Rodney Garner-OG, Greg Staples-S, and Brian Shulman-P,
The team is remembered by many as the best defensive team in Auburn history. The Tigers defense was ranked No.1 against the run, No.1 in scoring defense, and No.1 in the country in total defense. In addition Tracy Rocker was voted the SEC player of the year and won both the Outland and Lombardi Trophies.
But lost in memory for most fans is the fact that the ’88 Tigers were also pretty good on offense. The Auburn ‘O’ averaged 446-yards and 32 points per game.
Reggie Slack completed over 60 percent of his passes for 2,392-yards. James Joseph and Stacy Danley combined to rush for nearly 1700 yards with Danley coming just shy of the 1,000 yard mark.
In addition the legendary Freddy Weygand led Auburn’s receiving corps with 41 receptions for 617-yards. And none of it could have happened without a great offensive line. As usual the positions that compile the statistics get the glory. The OL guys just labor a way with little fanfare.
Nevertheless his teammates knew what type of a player he was …
As a pulling guard, they knew how important he was to the success of the offense. As the ultimate team player they recognizd his leadership ability. That’s why they elected Rodney their team captain.
Rodney Garner was so respected by his team mates that 25 of them returned to campus to be with their former teammate when he was introduced as the Tigers new Assistant Head Coach in December, 2012.
It was a happy and proud moment for not only Rodney but his former teammates as well. Garner said on that day that they had all learned so much from Coach Pat Dye, and not just football but about discipline and accountability. He promised that would be what he would bring to the new staff assembled by Gus Malzahn … ”discipline and accountability.”
He told Malzahn, “I’ve always been an Auburn Man. I want a part (of restoring Auburn). I just want to be on the team. I’m going to be the most loyal team member that he has. I’m going to work hard every day. I bleed Orange and Blue.”
The former player has returned to the place where he was the consummate team player. And now that the Tigers are beginning spring training, 85 young Tigers are going to learn from the best what it means to be disciplined, to work hard, and to bleed Orange and Blue.
Tags: 1988 SEC Football Champions, Auburn blogs, Auburn Tigers Football, Benji Roland, Brian Shulman, Carlo Cheattom-CB, discipline. and accountability, Greg Staples, Gus Malzahn, Jim Thompson-OL, pat dye, Quentin Riggins-LB, Reggie Slack-QB, Rodney Garner, Ron Stallworth-DT, Stacy Danley-RB, Track 'em Tigers, Tracy Rocker, Walter Reeves