Defensive Coaching Staff
Kevin Steele, a veteran coach with tremendous success at both the college and NFL level, joined the Auburn coaching staff before the 2016 season as defensive coordinator.
A familiar face in the SEC, in 2015, Steele served as defensive coordinator and linebackers coach for the LSU Tigers. He went to Baton Rouge from Alabama, where he spent the 2014 season coaching the Crimson Tide linebackers and special assistant to the head coach. In 2013, he served as Alabama's director of player personnel. A proven recruiter who helped Alabama sign the nation's No. 1 class, Steele has held defensive coordinator positions in the SEC and ACC as well as serving as the head coach at Baylor for four years.
Steele served as defensive coordinator at Alabama in 2007 and then held the same position at Clemson for three years from 2009-2011. While at Clemson, the Tigers won the 2011 ACC title, their first since 1991. Steele's 2010 Clemson defense led the ACC and ranked No. 13 nationally in points allowed, surrendering 18.8 points per game.
Before he joined the Alabama staff in 2007, Steele coached with Bobby Bowden at Florida State for four years (2003-06), serving as the executive head coach for the Seminoles. He was named the Rivals.com National Recruiter of the Year in 2005 at Florida State after helping the Seminoles sign the top class in the country.
Steele joined Florida State after serving as the head coach at Baylor University from 1999-2002, spending four seasons as a head coach in the Big 12 Conference.
Steele coached linebackers for the Carolina Panthers in the NFL from 1995-98. Under head coach Dom Capers, the Panthers reached the NFC Championship game in their second season (1996). After four years with Carolina, Steele was hired as head coach at Baylor in 1999.
From 1989-94, Steele coached the linebackers under Nebraska legend Tom Osborne. During his six years in Lincoln, the Cornhuskers went 60-11, appeared in six bowl games, won four conference championships and captured the 1994 national championship with a 13-0 record.
He has also held assistant coaching jobs at Tennessee (1987-88), Oklahoma State (1984-86) and New Mexico State (1983).
The Dillon, S.C., native is a 1981 graduate of the University of Tennessee. He spent his freshman season at Furman before transferring to Tennessee, where he was a member of Johnny Majors' squads. He was a student assistant coach in 1980 and then a graduate assistant the following year (1981) before being promoted to outside linebackers coach in 1982.
Steele and his wife, Linda, have one son Gordon and one daughter Caroline (an Auburn graduate). Gordon currently serves as offensive line coach and run game coordinator at Murray State. Steele's brother Jeff serves as associate athletics director for facilities and operations at Auburn.
Secondary Coach / Co-Defensive Coordinator
Greg Brown, who has coached three players that have won the Jim Thorpe Award as the nation's best defensive back, has been named Auburn’s secondary coach announced Gus Malzahn Saturday.
A 36-year coaching veteran, Brown comes to Auburn from Missouri where he spent the last year coaching cornerbacks, where the Tigers tied for the SEC lead in interceptions in the regular season. His resume includes 15 years of experience in the National Football League.
“I’m excited to welcome Greg Brown, who is one of the best defensive backs coach in all of football to our staff at Auburn,” Malzahn said. “Greg has coached three Thorpe Award winners and has a strong proven track record of developing players at both the college and professional level.”
Three of his pupils; Deon Figures (Colorado, 1992), Chris Hudson (Colorado, 1994) and Gerod Holliman (Louisville, 2014) have won the Thorpe Award. Brown is the only coach to have ever coached three players that have won the Thorpe Award. In 2014, Holliman tied an NCAA record with 14 interceptions.
“I’m extremely excited to come to Auburn and have the opportunity to work for Gus Malzahn and on the defensive side of the ball with Kevin Steele,” Brown said. “Auburn has a great football tradition built on hard work and toughness. I can’t wait to get to Auburn to help continue to build upon that success.”
Brown has spent the last 11 years at Power Five schools coaching defensive backs, with stints at Missouri, Louisville, Alabama, Colorado and Arizona. Prior to that, he had a 12-year run coaching the secondary with five different NFL franchises. In all, Brown has 19 years of college coaching experience and 17 years of professional experience (15 NFL, two USFL) to his credit.
He graduated from UTEP in 1980 with a bachelor's degree in education (history/physical education). At UTEP, Brown lettered twice at cornerback. He earned his A.A. degree from Glendale (Ariz.) Junior College in 1978. Brown graduated from Arvada (Colo.) High School, where he lettered in both football and track.
Associate Head Coach / Defensive Line
Former Auburn standout player and coach Rodney Garner, who helped the Tigers to a 2013 SEC Championship and a BCS Championship berth, returned to his alma mater that same season as associate head coach and recruiting coordinator.
In 2013, Auburn had the second biggest turnaround in college football history in NCAA records at +8.0 games. Garner coached senior defensive end Dee Ford, who was a Ted Hendricks Award semifinalist and SI.com All-America honorable mention as well as both a Coaches All-SEC first-team and Associated Press All-SEC first-team selection, and junior defensive tackle Gabe Wright, an AP All-SEC honorable mention pick.
Ford was the first-round draft pick of the Kansas City Chiefs in the 2014 NFL Draft, No. 23 overall.
An All-SEC player at Auburn in 1988 who previously coached on The Plains from 1990-95, Garner coaches the defensive line daily in practice. Garner spent the previous 15 years at Georgia in a similar capacity.
A native of Leeds, Ala., Garner was named All-SEC offensive line and honorable mention All-America as a senior at Auburn in 1988, captaining the team that captured the 1988 SEC Championship. As a coach for the Tigers, Garner served in several capacities on the Auburn staff from 1990-95 including recruiting coordinator, tight ends coach, and assistant strength and conditioning coach.
During his 15 years at Georgia, he was part of a staff that led UGA to 117 victories, two SEC Championships, five SEC Eastern Division titles, seven bowl victories and six top 10 finishes in the final national polls, including No. 2 in 2007 and No. 3 in 2002. He added the title of assistant head coach at Georgia in 2005 after serving as defensive line coach and recruiting coordinator at Georgia since January 1998.
In 2012, Garner helped the Bulldogs to an 11-2 record, the SEC Eastern Division title and a berth in the Capital One Bowl. The Georgia defense ranked 17th nationally in scoring defense, allowing just 18.7 points per game. He was part of the 2005 Georgia team that finished eighth nationally in scoring defense (16.4 ppg).
The 2003 Georgia defense finished second nationally in scoring defense (14.5 ppg), fourth in total defense (276.86 ypg), sixth in passing defense (174.50 ypg, 1st in the SEC), while helping the Bulldogs to a divisional title. Garner helped coach the 2002 Bulldog defense that finished first in the SEC and fourth nationally in scoring defense (15.1 ppg), first in the SEC in red zone defense (58.8%) and second in the SEC in rushing defense (114.0 ypg). The 2002 Bulldogs finished 13-1, won the SEC and Nokia Sugar Bowl Championships and ranked third in the final national polls.
Garner participated in the inaugural Minority Coaches Forum in Scottsdale, Ariz., in 2006. He was also selected as one of 10 coaches to participate in the 2004 NCAA Expert Coaching Academy in Indianapolis and one of only 20 chosen for the NCAA's 2004 Advanced Coaching Academy in Orlando.
At Georgia, he coached five NFL first round draft choices -- Richard Seymour (Patriots) and Marcus Stroud (Jaguars), both Pro Bowl starters; David Pollack (Bengals); Charles Grant (Saints); and Johnathan Sullivan (Saints). He also coached draft picks DeAngelo Tyson (7th, Ravens, `12), Geno Atkins (4th, Bengals, '10), Corvey Irvin (3rd, Panthers, `09), Jarius Wynn (6th, Packers, '09), Kedric Golston (6th, Redskins, `06), Robert Geathers (4th, Bengals, '04), Emarlos Leroy (6th, Jaguars, `99), and free agents Ken Veal (Chargers, `04), Paul Snellings (Colts, 2000), Brandon Miller (Colts, 2000), Charles Johnson (Panthers, '07), Tyrone Robertson (Bills, 2000) and Demetric Evans (Cowboys, `01).
After his playing career at Auburn, Garner had a free agent tryout with the NFL's Tampa Bay Buccaneers and played with the Pittsburgh Gladiators arena football team in 1989. He began his coaching career at Auburn in 1990. Garner coached tight ends and offensive tackles at Tennessee in 1997 after coaching tight ends for the Volunteers in 1996.
Garner, whose cousin is Charles Barkley, was an outstanding high school player at Leeds High School receiving many national, state and local honors. He is married to Kimberly Lawson Garner, a 1988 Auburn graduate in public relations. They have six children: Bridgett, Brielle, Jaiden, Kai, Sydney and Milan.
Assistant Coach / LBs Coach
Former Auburn linebacker Travis Williams was promoted to linebacker coach at his alma mater prior to the 2016 season, after holding various roles on the Tigers' football support staff.
Steeped in the Tiger tradition on defense, Williams signed with Auburn in 2001, redshirted his first season and then lettered the next four, earning all-SEC honors in 2004-05. He led Auburn in tackles (80) during the 2004 undefeated season; he was second in tackles in 2005 (68) and third in 2003 (67). He won the Pat Dye Leadership Award on defense in 2004 and 2005.
After his NFL career concluded, Williams returned to Auburn in 2009 as a defensive graduate assistant, and was part of Auburn's 2010 national championship season. After coaching stops at Northern Iowa and Creekside (Ga.) High School, Williams came back to Auburn in 2014 as a defensive analyst.
He served as an on-field coach on defense in preparations for Auburn's 2015 Outback and 2015 Birmingham Bowl appearances.
Williams played for the NFL's Atlanta Falcons during the 2006 and 2007 seasons, before beginning his coaching career at his alma mater, Spring Valley (S.C.) High School as a volunteer assistant.
Williams earned his bachelor's degree in criminology and criminal justice from Auburn in 2005, and received a master's degree in adult education from Auburn in 2011.
A native of Columbia, S.C., Williams and his wife Jeanine, an Auburn graduate, have two daughters, Tru and Reign.