Where are they Now: Rick Stockstill

Where are they Now is a feature that started on Noledigest. Rick Stockstill left FSU in 1982 after what some consider the era that started FSU football. Being apart of the beginning for the Noles is something that Stockstill cherishes. He talks with NoleDigest about how he got into coaching, his time at FSU, Steve Spurrier & the impact Bobby Bowden had on him in terms of becoming a quality coach.

How did you get into coaching?


RS: Well, my dad was a coach, so when I went to FSU I had an idea that coaching is something that I wanted to get into. Being around Bobby Bowden made it even more interesting to me. After I was done playing Larry Little got the job at Bethune-Cookman. He called up coach Bowden and asked if he could recommend anyone for the QB coach/ OC position. Coach gave him my name. I interviewed for it and was fortunate to get the job. I graduated in December and was at spring practice by March.


Why was coaching the job for you?


RS: Probably the fact that I grew up in it, seeing my dad in it and being around sports. I always liked the challenges it presented to me. When I was growing up I played football, basketball and baseball, so I was always involved in sports in some way. When I got into coaching I was very young, but now that I am older I really enjoy helping mold these guys into strong, positive young men. I take a lot of enjoyment in that.


You have a pretty extensive coaching history. Can you talk about that?


RS: I was at Bethune-Cookman for 2 years, UCF for 4, Clemson for 14, East Carolina for 1 and South Carolina for 2. This is my second year here at Middle Tennessee State. My goal was always to be a head coach one day, and this is the first one I really went after. I had an opportunity to get the job, whereas the Alabama's are going to hire guys with previous experience. The MAC, Conference USA and others like those provide guys like me the chance to become a head coach and have some success early. I felt that here there is a good recruiting base, seeing how we are outside Nashville, TN. We are 3 hours from Birmingham, Alabama and Atlanta, Georgia, so there is good talent around here. I was able to bring in some good coaches here and we are off to a good start.


You have a reputation as a great recruiter. Did you learn anything from Coach Bowden?


RS: I learned from everyone I worked with. I learned from Bowden, Holtz, Spurrier, Ford, etc. There really is no magic formula when it comes to recruiting. It is based on how hard you want to work and how much time you are willing to put into it. For me I have always been relentless in getting to know these kids families and those who are involved with them. It's a personal challenge. If I didn't get a kid it really bothered me. I really learned a lot through my time coming up the coaching ranks.


How did you get to FSU?


RS: I moved to Florida my junior year from Kentucky. I went to a camp at FSU the summer before my senior year and did really well. They recruited me my senior year, and I didn't have a lot of offers. I am very thankful that FSU provided the opportunity to me to get an education and play college football. Growing up in Kentucky I always liked the Wildcats and the Buckeyes. My dad really liked Ohio State and was a big fan of them. After we moved to Florida I kind of moved away from them, and after I went to the camp at FSU I fell in love with them and became a Nole fan. I am proud to say I am still one today.


Can you talk about playing for Bobby Bowden?


RS: Everyone likes to say that they played a part in the building of FSU. I really feel with him and my time there from 1977-1981 we were the group that put FSU on the national map. In 1980 we went out and beat LSU, Nebraska, Pittsburgh and Florida and lost to Oklahoma by one in the Orange Bowl. We played a ton of away games, and it's something that coach wanted. In 1981 we beat Ohio State, Notre Dame and LSU and played Nebraska and Pittsburg again. This era is what made FSU. I am not trying to sound cocky or anything like that. I think the guys after us were able to take what we did to another level. When I got there I think we had around 30,000 seats. When I left we were over 50,000. We had a lot to do with it, and playing for Coach was great. He has always said this is the era that made FSU a national name, and I am happy to be apart of that.


Can you talk about your time as a player?


RS: I started at quarterback in 1980 and 1981. 1980 was a better year because we won more games like the Nebraska game and we were able to get into the top 3. In 1981 we lost a lot of seniors on both sides of the ball, so we had a lot of young guys coming back. We played those schedules that were tough. Today I don't think we'd see schools with schedules that had LSU, Norte Dame and Ohio State over a three week period. We beat them on the road. But in 1981 we kind of ran out of gas at the end of the tough stretch with games against LSU, Nebraska and Pitt. We didn't have enough to make it through, so that was kind of tough.


You have coached some great players over the years. Who are some of your favorites?


RS: Brian Dawkins is one. I recruited him at Clemson. He has become of the best safeties in the league. Such a great player he was. Raymond Priester was a good one too, and he left Clemson as the all-time leading rusher there. Woody Dantzler is another one. He was the first to have 2,000 yards passing and 1,000 yards rushing at Clemson. Guys like Rod Gardner; the list just goes on. I've had a chance to around good kids, good people and guys that were fun to coach.


What's your opinion of the changes made at FSU?


RS: I really need to stay out of that. I don't know enough on why they made the changes, if they were needed or what have you. It is hard to speak on it because I love FSU, I love Coach Bowden, and it is my second favorite team right now.


So you are still a fan of the Noles?


RS: Oh, yeah! I love FSU very much and I hope they win all of their games. I would love to get on their schedule and coach against Bowden before he retires. Something like that would really help our program. I really feel we are similar to what FSU was when I got there in terms of a program that has played a ton of away games, playing these monster teams like LSU and Louisville. One day we will knock them off like we did at FSU. I try to do a lot of stuff that Bobby did running a first class program in every way. I rely on what I learned from him the most of all the coaches I have worked with and learned from.


Do you think FSU will be able to make it back to where they were?


RS: I think they will make it back a lot sooner than most people think. Their recruiting base is the best in the country, Bobby is still there, their facilities are probably the best and they have what it takes to get back. There is no question in my mind they will get back, and it will be soon.


Have you ever thought of coaching at FSU?


RS: It is my dream and it has been most of my life to come back and coach there. That is my school. I love Tallahassee; I love the people around there. It has been my dream and it will continue to be. I am a Nole and always will be.


Other than coaching, what other things do you do?


RS: When I am not coaching, I am with my 13 year old boy and 10 year old daughter. My son is playing basketball, football and baseball, so I try to be around that as much as possible. I really don't have any hobbies or anything, but I like to spend time with my family as much as possible. I jog a little bit but I could really do without that (laughs). I also have been doing ladies football clinics. Coach Bowden did it and was the first to do that. Brad Scott did it, and so has Tommy Bowden. At South Carolina we did it and Steve Spurrier picked it up and kept it going.  A lot of ladies come out there, and it is more than I thought it would ever be.


Are you in contact with any players from FSU?


RS: All of the time. I stay in contact with Monk Bonasorte and Paul Piurowski a lot. Guys like Grady King and Wally Woodham too. Brent Brock was an offensive lineman at FSU and he is my tight ends coach here at Middle Tennessee. I keep in touch with a lot of guys. You know you hear it all your life that the guys you meet in college will be your life-long friends, and it is true. Some of these guys are my best friends and we went through a lot of stuff together. We did too much together to lose contact with each other over the years. I tell my guys that you will be missing out on a lot of good times if you don't stay in contact with some of your teammates.


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