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‘On You About Every Little Thing’: Tennessee Freshmen DL Discuss Rodney Garner

Rodney Garner
Tennessee DL coach Rodney Garner. Photo By Caleb Jones/Tennessee Athletics.

Playing for Tennessee defensive line coach Rodney Garner isn’t for the faint of heart. Garner has been coaching defensive line in the SEC for over 30 years and still coaches his players in an old school nature.

“De-recruiting” is an old college coaching phrase. After positively recruiting a high school prospect for months or even years, coaches “de-recruit” them when they get to campus as a way to motivate them and show them how much better they have to get.

The concept isn’t as oft used as it once was due to the relevance of the transfer portal. However, Garner is still a fan of it and started doing it to Tennessee’s freshmen defensive linemen before they even arrived on campus.

“Coach Garner, now I love Coach G,” edge rusher Chandavian Bradley said Wednesday. “After signing day he came into my school because we have other people in my school that are being recruited— from my high school. I met up with him and the first thing he said is you’re signed now, it’s over. We’re not treating you like a baby anymore. I’m going to be on you about every little thing no matter what it is even though you’re still in high school.”

Garner, who is entering the third year of his second stint at Tennessee, lived up to his promise. Constantly providing instructions and feedback for Tennessee’s incoming defensive linemen before they arrived on campus.

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“He was on me before I ever got here,” freshman Tyree Weathersby said. “He didn’t lie one bit so he’s a very hard coach. But at the end of the day he love me and he’s just trying to do what he knows we have to do to get me where I want to go.”

“He did not lie,” Bradley said. “I got texts, at least once every week, him checking in on me, making sure that I’m doing everything that I need to do and since I’ve been here he’s been on it. On me, on me, on me about every little thing and I love it.”

Playing for Garner isn’t always easy but it is often beneficial. The SEC veteran position coach (Auburn, Georgia, Tennessee) has coached a multitude of NFL draft pick including two in his last two years at Tennessee (Matthew Butler and Byron Young).

Garner is a very demanding coach but the prospects he recruits know it and are able to prepare for and handle it.

“I went up to him after practice and said thank you because that’s the type of stuff that I like because it helps me learn,” Bradley said. “I think sometimes it looks as if it gets under my skin a little bit but in reality in my head I’m processing it and genuinely like being taught that way. I like being yelled at. It’s weird but I do enjoy it.”

“Nothing I can do about it but gotta love it,” freshman Daevin Hobbs said. “That’s just the way he is— tough love. So I like it, I’d say.”

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