In his first year as a head coach, Rick Stockstill seized the moment and guided the Middle Tennessee program to a place many thought impossible.
After 24 years as an assistant, Stockstill was given the chance to run his own program and all he did was lead the Blue Raiders to a Sun Belt Conference championship, help set a new single-season attendance record, and take the program to its first postseason bowl game in the I-A era. In taking a Middle Tennessee team predicted to finish sixth in the Sun Belt during the preseason to a league title, Stockstill was also crowned the 2006 Sun Belt Conference Coach of the Year while also garnering that honor from ESPN.com.
During the 2006 championship run, Stockstill and his staff developed an All-American, 11 all-conference players, 11 SBC Player of the Week winners, a consensus National Defensive Player of the Week (Damon Nickson won the Walter Camp and the Bronco Nagurski awards), and the school's all-time sacks leader (Erik Walden). Not bad considering only three Blue Raiders were named to the All-SBC Preseason team as voted on by league coaches and media.
Off the field, Stockstill made an immediate impact as well by dramatically improving the team's APR to 949.
A benchmark of all championship teams is the ability to win away from home and Stockstill's Blue Raiders demonstrated their mental toughness by winning a league best four Sun Belt Conference road games on the way to a school record six conference wins in all. In fact, Middle Tennessee's road success was amongst the best in college football in 2006 as only 10 other teams won as many conference road games in 2006 (Arkansas, Auburn, Boise State, BYU, Ohio, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Texas A&M, USC, Wake Forest).
It is said you are only as good as the people you surround yourself with and Stockstill assembled a championship staff well before he coached his first game. Stockstill's staff sports three Super Bowl rings, four National Championships, 70 bowl rings, and 158 years of coaching experience.
Along with his extensive background in collegiate coaching circles, the driven and determined Stockstill also has had the advantage of working alongside some of the greatest minds in college football history. These experiences were evident in his highly successful first season at the helm.
Stockstill, who made his way to Murfreesboro after spending the previous two years at South Carolina, has worked with legendary coaches Lou Holtz, Steve Spurrier, Danny Ford, Tommy Bowden, Ken Hatfield, and Tommy West.
Stockstill demonstrated the ability to develop and coach big-time players throughout his 24-year college coaching career and has recruited 16 players that have been drafted or signed as free agents since 2000. He joined the Gamecock staff in December, 2003 and immediately made an impact in recruiting. Stockstill coached the Gamecock tight ends and served as recruiting coordinator in 2005 and was the wide receiver coach in 2004.
Prior to joining Holtz' staff at South Carolina, Stockstill was the offensive coordinator at East Carolina in 2003, where he had a 1,000-yard rusher, a receiver to break the single-season receptions mark, and a quarterback who set a new completion percentage record.
In his first year at South Carolina, Stockstill coached Troy Williamson to one of the best seasons ever for a Gamecock receiver. Williamson made 43 receptions for 835 yards (75.9 per game average) and seven touchdowns. Williamson's 835 receiving yards stand as the fourth-highest single-season total in school history, and his seven touchdowns are tied for sixth on Carolina's single-season list. Williamson was taken as the seventh pick in the 2005 NFL Draft by the Minnesota Vikings.
In addition to his on-field coaching at Carolina, Stockstill coordinated the signing of a top-20 recruiting class for the Gamecocks in his first season and was recognized as one of the top 25 recruiters in the nation by Rivals.com.
Stockstill was on the coaching staff at Clemson from 1989 to 2002, where he helped lead the Tigers to some of their most proficient offensive performances in school history. He served in a variety of capacities during his tenure with Clemson, working as recruiting coordinator, wide receivers coach, co-offensive coordinator, passing game coordinator, and quarterbacks coach. One of his prize pupils was All-America wide receiver Rod Gardner, who now stars with the Green Bay Packers and was the number 15 pick of the 2001 NFL Draft. Stockstill played an integral role in Clemson's offense setting more than 100 school records from 1998 to 2002.
Also recognized as a top-notch recruiter, Stockstill is credited with recruiting Clemson's all-time leading rusher (Raymond Priester), second all-time leading passer (Woodrow Dantzler), and all-time leading receivers (Derrick Hamilton and Rod Gardner). Stockstill has coached in 12 bowl games during his career with the Motor City Bowl being the 13th.
Stockstill also has coaching experience at the University of Central Florida (1985-88), where he tutored wide receiver Shawn Jefferson, who went on to a 13-year career in the NFL, and at Bethune-Cookman (1983-84).
Born Dec. 23 in Sidney, Ohio, Stockstill grew up in Fernandina Beach, Fla., where he was inducted into the Fernandina Beach Hall of Fame in 2006. He was a three-year letterman at Florida State as a quarterback where he was team captain and earned honorable mention All-America honors in 1981 under Coach Bobby Bowden. During his career at FSU, the Seminoles had two top-10 final Associated Press rankings and had wins over powers Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Ohio State, and Nebraska. Stockstill, who received his bachelor's degree from FSU in 1982, made three bowl trips with the Seminoles.
Stockstill and his wife, the former Sara Fleischman, have a son, Brent, and a daughter, Emily.