Garner sticking around

ATHENS – The longest-tenured coach on Georgia's football staff will be staying at least another year.

Recruiting coordinator and defensive line coach Rodney Garner announced Monday evening that he will remain with the Bulldogs after interviewing with the NFL's New Orleans Saints two weeks ago. Garner, who has been at Georgia since 1998 and was a member of former coach Jim Donnan's staff, is the dean of Southeastern Conference recruiters and was instrumental in bringing in one of the five best classes in the nation earlier this year.

"Georgia is a great place to work, and I'm grateful to Coach (Mark) Richt for the support he has shown me and my family over the years," Garner said in a statement released by the school. "We have one of the outstanding coaching staffs in the country along with some of the greatest fans in college football. My family is very happy in Athens. This is a special place."

Garner could not be reached for further comment.

"If you have a successful program, you have successful assistant coaches who are going to be attractive to other college or professional football teams, and that's always a compliment to your program," Richt said in a statement. "Rodney has done a remarkable job at Georgia coaching our interior defensive line and coordinating our recruiting program, and it's exciting to know that this is where he wants to be."

Garner was named Georgia's assistant head coach last year after he reportedly had an interview set up with LSU. His annual salary was raised to $210,000 at that time, and he got another raise this offseason, to $231,000, as part of an increased salary package for all Georgia's assistants.

Georgia running backs coach Kirby Smart left the Bulldogs on Friday to take a position with the NFL's Miami Dolphins. Virginia Tech wide receivers coach Tony Ball, who has been with the Hokies for eight seasons, has emerged as a candidate to replace Smart, a source close the team told The Telegraph on Monday. Ball is a 1983 graduate of UT-Chattanooga. He has coached running backs at Holy Cross and East Tennessee State during his career.

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