In five seasons at the helm of the Middle Tennessee program, Rick Stockstill has elevated the Blue Raiders to an unprecedented level. During his short tenure, the Blue Raiders have captured a league title, won the 2009 New Orleans Bowl, made three bowl games in five years, appeared on national television a record and Sun Belt Conference-best 14 times, and produced six of the top ten crowds in Floyd Stadium history.
In 2010, Stockstill's team battled back from a tough start and came up with clutch plays down the stretch to make back-to-back bowl games for the first time in school history. The coach also had an Academic All-American in Jeremy Kellem, the SBC Defensive Player of the Year in Jamari Lattimore, and a total of nine players who were recognized on the All-Conference team.
The 2009 season was one for the record books as that squad accomplished what few believed possible with an FBS-record 10 wins, a final ranking of 33rd nationally in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches poll, a bowl victory, a seven-game winning streak, the most Sun Belt victories in school history, five road victories, and a second straight undefeated month of November. It all resulted in Stockstill being named Sun Belt Conference Co-Coach of the Year and 11 players earning All-Conference honors, including co-Defensive Player of the Year Chris McCoy, who was taken in the 7th round of the NFL Draft by the Miami Dolphins. To top things off, quarterback Dwight Dasher earned New Orleans Bowl MVP honors and became just the fourth player in NCAA history to pass for more than 2,500 yards and rush for 1,000 yards in the same season.
Stockstill has also shown a commitment to academics during his tenure. The Blue Raiders have gone from an APR score of 892 to a very impressive 990, the biggest increase of any program in the country. The Blue Raiders have also been crowned with the Sun Belt Conference Academic Award on two occasions (2006-07, 2007-08). For his efforts, Stockstill was inducted as an honorary member into Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society in April 2010.
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 2006 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. Taking a Middle Tennessee team predicted to finish sixth in the Sun Belt during the preseason to a league title, Stockstill ended up as the 2006 Sun Belt Conference Coach of the Year and the Tennessee Sports Writers Association Coach of the Year while also garnering that honor from ESPN.com.
Stockstill's teams have amassed the top four tackles for loss and quarterback sack totals in school history and have produced the Sun Belt's top touchdown scorer twice. Individual players have 39 All-Conference honors and two Player of the Year Awards, and there have been three different National Player of the Week winners.
The Blue Raiders have won 25 of 37 conference games since 2006 and pulled upsets of ACC member Maryland in 2008 and 2009. In 2008, defensive end Erik Walden was taken in the sixth round of the NFL Draft by the Dallas Cowboys, and offensive lineman Franklin Dunbar and defensive lineman Trevor Jenkins signed as free agents with the Philadelphia Eagles.
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). Much of the team's success was attributed to their play on the road that year; the Blue Raiders won four conference road games. Only 10 other teams nationally could stake that claim.
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 current staff sports four national championships, 85 bowl rings, and 211 years of coaching experience.
Along with his extensive background in collegiate coaching circles, the driven and determined Stockstill has had the advantage of working alongside some of the greatest minds in college football history.
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 career as an assistant. 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 receivers coach in 2004.
Before joining Holtz's staff at South Carolina, Stockstill was the offensive coordinator at East Carolina in 2003.
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 put him among the single-season leaders at USC, along with his seven touchdowns. 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.
From 1989 to 2002, Stockstill was on the coaching staff at Clemson, 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 was the number 15 pick of the 2001 NFL Draft. Stockstill played an integral role in Clemson's offense, which set more than 100 school records from 1998 to 2002.
Stockstill is credited with recruiting Clemson's all-time leading rusher (Raymond Priester), second all-time leading passer (Woodrow Dantzler), and second all-time leading receivers (Derrick Hamilton and Rod Gardner). As a coach, Stockstill has been a part of 15 bowl games, including three as a head coach.
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 College (1983-84).
Born Dec. 23 in Sidney, Ohio, Stockstill grew up in Georgetown, Ky., and then moved to 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.