The Georgia Bulldogs' third defensive coaching hire of the last two weeks may prove to be the most valuable in the recruitment of Lorenzo Carter, one of the nation's top uncommitted prospects.
News: Tracy Rocker told me seconds ago that he will be Georgia's defensive line coach. "I'm excited," Rocker said. "Go Dawgs."— Seth Emerson (@SethEmerson) January 25, 2014
According to Seth Emerson of Macon's The Telegraph, Tracy Rocker, a well traveled defensive line coach, confirmed in an interview that he is coming to coach the Bulldogs.
It's amazing how things start working out. It was unique to me, because I grew up in Atlanta obviously, like anybody else you grow up and watch Georgia football. And that's what I grew up (watching.)
And now I'm back closer to the house. And I'm part of a very prominent, historical program.
While the opportunity may indeed be unique for Rocker, his impact on the 2014 Georgia recruiting class could be just as special.
Value of a Position Coach
By all accounts, Lorenzo Carter, a 5-star defensive end, has been impressed by Georgia's new defensive regime.
Earlier this month, Carter spoke positively of the Bulldogs' new defensive coordinator, Jeremy Pruitt.
"He did a pretty good job at FSU, so it'll be cool to see what he's planning on doing at UGA," he told Kipp Adams of 247Sports (subscription required).
Even Pruitt, a tremendous recruiter, has had his hands tied by a vacancy in his coaching staff. After all, recruiting a defensive lineman without a defensive line coach is a daunting task. In that regard, any defensive line coach would have been a step in the right direction on the recruiting trail.
Rocker, however, is much more than a stopgap for recruiting season; he's an outstanding coach with a tremendous track record of developing linemen.
The Right Coach for Carter
Rocker has much to offer a young star like Carter. As a college football player at Auburn, Rocker won the Outland Trophy (best interior lineman) and the Lombardi Award (best lineman or linebacker) in the same season.
If Carter seeks to dominate the college game, Rocker can provide the appropriate guidance based on firsthand experience alone.
Furthermore, Rocker boasts a long history of developing some of the nation's best defensive linemen as a college coach.
During a five-year span with the Arkansas Razorbacks, he turned Jamaal Anderson (a 2-star recruit, according to Rivals.com) into one of the nation's most explosive pass-rushers and the eighth overall pick in the 2007 NFL draft.
A few years later, he coached Nick Fairley at Auburn and turned him into a Lombardi Award winner and first-round NFL draft pick.
Rocker's proven ability to develop, refine and maximize talent will appeal to Carter.
Rocker also has a wealth of experience at the NFL level—both as a player and as a coach. Before his coaching career began, Rocker spent time with the Washington Redskins as a player; he was a third-round pick in 1989. His most recent job was with the Tennessee Titans as the defensive line coach for the past two seasons.
Carter's long-term plans undoubtedly include professional football, and Rocker will be able to offer wide-ranging insights into what the next level requires.
How Tracy Rocker Closes Recruiting Season
In his interview with The Telegraph, Rocker told Emerson, "I'm just here getting stuff packed up here in Nashville. I'll be down there in the early part of next week."
Job No. 1 once he arrives will be meeting with Carter. He'll have to move fast, but his plan of attack will be simple.
Georgia needs Rocker to sell Carter on two things. First and foremost, Rocker must convince Carter that he is capable of turning him into the Southeastern Conference's most feared defensive lineman—just as he did with Anderson and Fairley. Secondly, he must impress upon Carter his ability to create NFL-ready players. After all, athletes of Carter's caliber are not selecting a program merely for a four-year return. Rather, players like Carter often commit to the school that gives them the best chance of succeeding in the NFL.
Rocker should be able to make compelling arguments for both of those factors. In doing so, Georgia's newest staff member may have the biggest impact on its 2014 recruiting class.
Recruiting information and player star rankings are from 247Sports, unless otherwise noted.