Two openings in the USC football organization were officially filled Friday morning with the Board of Trustees approving contracts for new defensive line coach Tracy Rocker and new director of player personnel Drew Hughes. Rocker, a former Auburn All-American and member of the College Football Hall of Fame, and Hughes are coming from Tennessee.
Rocker replaces John Scott who left after one season to join the staff at Penn State. He received a two year contract thru December 31st, 2021 that will pay him $525,000 dollars per season plus incentives.
Here’s the USC release on Rocker:
Rocker comes to Columbia after finding success at every stop during his 20-plus year collegiate and professional coaching career. He most recently spent the past two seasons at Tennessee, his fifth different stop in the SEC. He has also logged Division I stints at Georgia (2014-16), Auburn (2009-10), Ole Miss (2008), Arkansas (2003-07), Cincinnati (2002), and Troy (1997-01). In addition, he spent three seasons with the NFL’s Tennessee Titans (2011-13). He coached the defensive line in each of those stops, but also held the title of Associate Head Coach while at Georgia.
Rocker has coached on four conference championship squads – 1999 and 2000 Southland at Troy; 2002 Conference USA at Cincinnati; and 2010 SEC at Auburn. That 2010 Auburn squad went on to win the National Championship.
“Tracy has great experience playing and coaching in the Southeastern Conference,” said Coach Muschamp. “I’ve tried to hire him before and am glad we were finally able to get him to Columbia and be a Gamecock. He’s had great success in this league in developing defensive linemen and has coached a lot of guys who have played in the NFL, which is the goal for many of our players.”
Rocker has coached six All-Americans and 15 NFL draft picks, including five first rounders -DeMarcus Ware, Jamaal Anderson, Peria Jerry, Nick Fairley and Dee Ford. Fairley, a defensive tackle, won the Lombardi Award and was the AP Defensive Player of the Year at Auburn in 2010, while Al Lucas captured the Buck Buchanan Award as the Division I-AA Top Defensive Player as a defensive tackle at Troy in 1999.
Rocker began his coaching career as the defensive coordinator at Auburn (Ala.) High School from 1992-93. He broke into the college coaching ranks as the defensive line coach at West Alabama from 1994-96.
As a coach, Rocker spent two summers working with NFL teams (Indianapolis, 2001; Tampa Bay, 2006) as a part of the NFL’s Minority Internship Program.
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.
A two-time All-American at Auburn, Rocker won the 1988 Outland Trophy and Lombardi Award. He was the first SEC player to earn both awards. He was named SEC Player of the Year following his senior season in 1988. He 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 was a third-round pick by Washington in the 1989 NFL Draft and played two seasons before suffering a knee injury. He concluded his career by playing one year for the Orlando Thunder of the World Football League.
Born April 9, 1966, 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.
Hughes replaces Matt Lindsey who left for a similar position at Ole Miss.
Here’s the USC release on Hughes:
Hughes reunites with Coach Muschamp, whom he worked with at Florida in 2014. Hughes served as the Director of Player Personnel for the Gators from 2014-17.
“Drew and I have a history of working together and because of that, there will be a seamless transition for our staff moving forward,” said Coach Muschamp. “He is very organized and is an outstanding evaluator of talent. I’m excited to have Drew back on staff.”
Hughes comes to Columbia after serving for the past two years in a similar role at Tennessee. While on Rocky Top, Hughes managed the recruiting department for the Vols, including on and off-campus recruiting, talent evaluation and high school relations. This spring, he was one of the key cogs in helping the Vols complete their first Top-10 recruiting class since 2015.
Hughes had similar roles at N.C. State in 2013 and at Central Florida in 2012. He was a recruiting specialist at Alabama from 2007-11.
Since 2012, Hughes has helped his teams bring in 30 NFL draft picks, including 12 in the 2018 draft, headlined by first-round picks Bradley Chubb and Taven Bryan. At Florida, Hughes helped the Gators reel in three Top-12 recruiting classes.
A native of Montgomery, Ala., Hughes graduated from Alabama in 2011. He is married to the former Rebekah Anne Hough of Lakeland, Fla. The couple has a son, Rhett.
Muschamp still has to hire a running backs coach and has interviewed former NC State running backs coach Dez Kitchings and current LSU running backs coach Tommie Robinson. He may also lose his receivers coach as Bryan McClendon interviewed earlier this week with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
And it’s possible Muschamp will hire a linebackers coach instead of coaching the position himself. According to the Locked On The Gamecocks Podcast, Muschamp has met with former Gamecock linebacker Rod Wilson about that possibility. Wilson currently the assistant special teams coach with the Kansas City Chiefs.