After three seasons, defensive line coach Tracy Rocker will be leaving the Georgia football program, a team spokesman confirmed Tuesday.
Rocker is now the first of the nine on-field assistants from the 2016 Georgia staff to head elsewhere for a job.
It's unknown at this time why Rocker is leaving the Georgia staff. He earned $525,000 as an assistant this past season. He was one of two holdovers from the previous staff retained by head coach Kirby Smart.
As Georgia’s defensive line coach in 2016, his unit helped the Bulldogs average opposing teams to 143.7 rushing yards per game.
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Among the linemen he recruited and coached was Trenton Thompson, who ended his sophomore season as the Liberty Bowl MVP after recording three sacks in a win over TCU.
Rocker came to Georgia after three seasons with the Tennessee Titans. He played college football at Auburn and was a two-time All-American defensive tackle. He also won the 1988 Outland Trophy and the Lombardi Award.
In 2004, Rocker was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.
Rocker's college coaching career past the high school level has spanned 23 years, beginning at West Alabama in 1994. In 1997, he became Troy State's defensive line coach and served five years with the Trojans. Rocker took the same role at Cincinnati in 2002. He then spent four seasons at Arkansas followed by a year at Mississippi.
Rocker then returned to his alma mater to coach Auburn's defensive line from 2009-10 before joining the Tennessee Titans' staff in 2011. Rocker came back to the college ranks in 2014 to work for former Georgia defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt, who left for Alabama after previous head coach Mark Richt was fired.
The list of defensive linemen Rocker has coach is quite impressive. At Troy State, Rocker coached DeMarcus Ware and Osi Umenyiora. At Arkansas, he mentored Jamaal Anderson, who became a first-round NFL draft pick. Rocker also coached Nick Fairley during his two years at Auburn.
Georgia is set to return a veteran defensive line unit led by Thompson. Joining him up front are John Atkins, Julian Rochester, DaQuan Hawkins-Muckle, David Marshall, Jonathan Ledbetter, Tyler Clark and Michail Carter. It figures to be a strength of Georgia's team for the 2017 season.
Georgia's defensive lineman have lauded Rocker for his tough-love coaching style in the past.
"Coach Rocker’s like a father figure," Atkins said in a 2016 interview. "He’s the greatest guy to be around. Once you be around him, I don’t know, it just excited me when he came back because he’s going to bring out the best in you."
Rocker wasn't the only assistant to leave Georgia on Tuesday. Offensive line graduate assistant D.J. Looney is expected to head to Mississippi State to be an assistant with offensive tackles and tight ends, according to a report from FOX Sports' Bruce Feldman. Looney only spent one season with Georgia.
Looney is the latest Georgia tie to join Mississippi State. Former Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham is now at Mississippi State, as are former Georgia defenders Chauncey Rivers and Johnathan Abram.