AUBURN, Ala. – Auburn Outland Trophy and Lombardi Award winner Tracy Rocker is returning as its defensive line coach, Tigers’ head coach Bryan Harsin announced Thursday. Rocker, who coached the defensive line at Auburn from 2009-10, winning a national championship with the Tigers in 2010, has 20-plus years of experience coaching collegiately and professionally.
“Tracy Rocker is one of Auburn’s all-time great players and has a wealth of experience coaching and in the Southeastern Conference,” Harsin said. “He understands what a championship team looks like and knows what it takes to be successful at the highest level. We’re excited to welcome back Tracy to the Auburn family.”
A two-time All-American, Rocker was the first SEC player to earn both the Outland Trophy and Lombardi Award. He was named SEC Player of the Year following his senior season in 1988. Rocker was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2004, the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame in 2005 and the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame in 2018.
Rocker spent the 2020 season at South Carolina after two seasons (2018-19) at Tennessee. He has also logged Division I stints at Georgia (2014-16), Auburn (2009-10), Ole Miss (2008), Arkansas (2003-07), Cincinnati (2002), and Troy State (1997-01). In addition, he spent three seasons with the NFL’s Tennessee Titans (2011-13). He mentored the defensive line in each of those stops but was also given the additional title of Associate Head Coach while at Georgia in 2015.
“I’m excited about coming back to Auburn to work with Coach Harsin and the staff he has put together,” Rocker said. “In my visits with Coach Harsin, he has shared a clear vision for the program and I’m looking forward to helping put that vision in place. I have great memories as a player and coach at Auburn and can’t wait to create more in the future.”
Rocker has coached on four conference championship squads – 2010 SEC at Auburn; 1999 and 2000 Southland at Troy and 2002 Conference USA at Cincinnati. That 2010 Auburn squad went on to win the 2011 BCS National Championship Game over Oregon.
In addition, Rocker spent two summers working with NFL teams (Indianapolis, 2001; Tampa Bay, 2006) as a part of the NFL’s Minority Internship Program.
Rocker has coached six All-Americans – Nick Fairley (Auburn), Peria Jerry (Ole Miss), Tim Betts (Troy), Eric Sloan (Troy), Al Lucas (Troy) and Marcus Spriggs (Troy), along with 15 NFL draft picks, including five first rounders – DeMarcus Ware, Jamaal Anderson, Peria Jerry, Nick Fairley and Dee Ford – as well as future pros Greg Hardy, Trent Cole and Osi Umenyiora. Anderson was the premier pass rusher in the SEC in 2006 with 14 sacks for 100 yards and 20.5 tackles for loss for Arkansas.
Fairley, a defensive tackle, won the Lombardi Award and was the AP Defensive Player of the Year at Auburn in 2010. He led the SEC with 21 tackles for loss and was second in the SEC with 10.5 sacks. In addition, Al Lucas captured the Buck Buchanan Award as the Division I-AA Top Defensive Player as a defensive tackle at Troy in 1999.
A native of Atlanta, Rocker is considered one of the state of Georgia’s greatest college football players of all time. He was a two-time all-state selection at Fulton High School and was named the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Defensive Player of the Year as a senior in high school.
Rocker was a third-round pick by Washington in the 1989 NFL Draft and was named to the All-Rookie Team. He played two seasons before suffering a knee injury which ended his playing career prematurely. He concluded his career by playing one year for the Orlando Thunder of the World Football League.
Rocker returned to Auburn to complete his undergraduate degree in 1992 and began his coaching career as the defensive coordinator at Auburn High School that same year. He broke into the college coaching ranks as the defensive line coach at West Alabama from 1994-96.
Rocker and his wife, Lalitha, have one son, Kumar, who was named the 2019 College World Series Most Outstanding Player after leading Vanderbilt baseball to the NCAA title, and tossed a 19-strikeout no-hitter in the NCAA Super Regionals.