Winning on the field, off the field and having a first-class football program from top to bottom is the goal of any University at the highest level of intercollegiate athletics. That is exactly what Middle Tennessee has as a result of the leadership of Head Coach Rick Stockstill.
In his 12th season at the helm of the Blue Raiders and the seventh longest tenured coach in the country, Stockstill has captured a league title, won the 2009 New Orleans Bowl, made six bowl appearances, been bowl eligible eight times, earned two public recognition awards from the NCAA for APR success, produced six of the top eight crowds in Floyd Stadium history, and had back-to-back eight-win seasons for the first time in 21 years.
Under his watch, the Blue Raiders have also produced eight all-American’s, including one academic all-American, three defensive players of the year, and three bowl game MVP’s. Middle Tennessee also became the first Sun Belt team to win 10 games in a season, and set the Floyd Stadium single-game attendance record under his leadership. He also has five NFL Draft picks with Erik Walden in 2008, Chris McCoy in 2010, Rod Issac in 2011, Jimmy Staten in 2014 and Kevin Byard in 2016. Byard became the second highest draft pick in school history (3rd round, 64th pick to Titans).
The veteran leader put the Blue Raiders in the 2016 Hawaii Bowl in a year his team overcame a ton of adversity. Prior to the season he lost nearly all his starting receivers to injury, saw his record-setting quarterback go down, along with other key contributors. Through it all he led them to an eight-win season for the third time in five years to go with five first team all-conference picks and a freshman all-american.
The veteran leader put the Blue Raiders in the 2015 Popeyes Bahamas Bowl after going an impressive 4-0 in the month of November behind a record-setting offense and a bend-but-don’t break opportunistic defense. The Blue Raiders produced 13 players honored by Conference USA for post-season awards, including four first team members, four on the All-Freshman Team and the league’s Freshman of the Year in Brent Stockstill. MT also had freshman all-Americans in Richie James and Stockstill.
After winning eight games in 2012 and being left out of a bowl game, Stockstill showed his bounce back ability once again by leading the Raiders to another eight-win season and a trip to the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces bowl. The Blue Raiders were among the national leaders in turnovers gained (5th), turnover margin (T12th), fewest penalties (14th), third down conversions (25th) and rushing (31st).
Some regard the 2012 season as his best coaching job after leading the Blue Raiders to the nation’s biggest win improvement from the previous year. His seventh MT squad went 8-4, won an FBS school record five road games, received votes in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll three straight weeks, and upset ACC Coastal Division Champion Georgia Tech. Along the way, he produced a freshman all-American, eight all-conference players, and a national offensive player of the week.
In 2010, Stockstill’s team battled back from a tough start 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, who owns upsets over Maryland (2008 and 2009), Georgia Tech (2012) and Missouri (2016), 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 992, the biggest increase of any program in the country. The Blue Raiders were also crowned with the Sun Belt Conference Academic Award on two occasions (2006-07, 2007-08) and earned two public recognition awards from the NCAA for APR success (2011, 2012). 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 has produced the conference’s top touchdown scorer twice. Individual players have 99 All-Conference honors, two Player of the Year Awards, four different National Player of the Week winners, and a Freshman of the Year.
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.
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), fourth all-time leading passer (Woodrow Dantzler), and number six and number seven all-time leading receivers (Derrick Hamilton and Rod Gardner). As a coach, Stockstill has been a part of 18 bowl games, including six 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, 1957 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.