The one position with the most confusion around it during this search has been defensive line. So unsurprisingly the hire ended up catching many folks by surprise. Per numerous reports, former All-American, Outland and Lombardi award winner Tracy Rocker is expected to return to the Plains for a second stint as defensive line coach.
Former Auburn DL great Tracy Rocker, who won the Outland and Lombardi Trophies, is in the mix to return to the Tigers staff under new HC Bryan Harsin, per source. The South Carolina DL coach was the Tigers D-line coach when they won the national title.— Bruce Feldman (@BruceFeldmanCFB) January 13, 2021
Rocker first came home in 2009 as part of Gene Chizik’s staff. He helped mentor and develop Nick Fairley into one of the most monstrous forces in college football. He departed to the NFL in 2011 before returning to collegiate action in Athens in 2014. He’s since jumped around to a couple of other SEC East schools most recently at South Carolina.
As AuburnUndercover’s Nate King notes, Rocker is without question one of the best DL coaches in America:
During his career as an assistant coach, Rocker has mentored six All-Americans: Nick Fairley (Auburn), Peria Jerry (Ole Miss), Tim Betts (Troy), Eric Sloan (Troy), Al Lucas (Troy) and Marcus Spriggs (Troy). Fifteen players Rocker coached became NFL draft picks, including five first-round selections in DeMarcus Ware (Troy), Jamaal Anderson (Arkansas), Jerry, Fairley and Dee Ford (Auburn).
The question with Rocker is his recruiting prowess. He has the reputation of being someone that doesn’t necessarily enjoy the process. But maybe a return home will get him energized once again.
This expected hire leaves only two more positions to be filled on Harsin’s staff: Wide Receivers & Outside Linebackers. Darrell Wyatt, Bryan McClendon, Tee Martin and Dameyune Craig are believed to be the top contenders for the WR position with Wyatt possibly being the most likely. Outside of Travis Williams, it’s uncertain who else might be up for the OLB job. I expect though that hire to be made pretty quickly now that the DL position is set.