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Garner returns to Greenville for Butler County Auburn Club meeting

The Butler County Auburn Club put the new Sherling Lake lake house through its paces on a perfect summer evening during the organization’s annual meeting Thursday night.

The lake house was decked out in navy blue and burnt orange as Auburn fans from around the county enjoyed an evening of food and fellowship, though this year with the serene view of Sherling Lake.

Auburn University recruiting coordinator and defensive line coach Rodney Garner reprised his role as guest speaker for the second time in two years as he filled in for the previously billed co-offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach Kodi Burns, who was unable to attend due to a scheduling conflict with a recruit.

Garner said that he was happy to return to the Camellia City, especially with good news in tow regarding one of the city’s most promising athletes, Marlon Davidson.

The then-freshman started in 13 games last season and, according to Garner, has played at a consistently high level.  Moreover, he’s demonstrated a level of leadership uncharacteristic of most players his age.

“Marlon has been a pleasure to coach,” Garner said.

“He’s a great guy, but he’s borderline arrogant,” he added with a laugh.  “If Marlon just gets to where Marlon thinks he is, he’ll be the best player on the field.

Garner added that Davidson’s expectations of himself carry over to his work ethic, and that he is making great decisions not only on the field, but also off of it.

“He wants to win every rep, and I like that,” Garner said.

“He’s one of the best players on the team as a sophomore, and you don’t have to be a senior to be a leader.”

Davidson was just one indicator of what Garner considered “brighter days ahead” for the Auburn program.

“I know the last couple of years we stumped our toe,” Garner continued. “But we’re excited about the opportunity we have at Auburn, and we’re excited about the young men we have in that program. 

“[Strength and conditioning] coach Ryan Russell is doing an outstanding job with our young men.  They are having a tremendous offseason program, and they understand what we want to accomplish and achieve, and what it’ll take to get there.

Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn outlined three goals necessary for the Tigers’ success this season.

“The first thing that he put on the board was that we have to win the summer,” Garner said. “That’s our only focus.  Let’s win the summer and how we prepare in the weight room, in conditioning drills and in two-hour meetings that we can work with them now because of the rule change.

“The next thing we have to do is protect our name and our brand.  We need everybody to make good choices so that we have everybody with us come fall.

“And finally, we’ve got to stay healthy.”