Very few individuals can impact a program the way Russ Huesman has influenced the Chattanooga Mocs since taking over as the 22nd head football coach at his alma mater on Dec. 22, 2008. Huesman has orchestrated a monumental turnaround over the last five years, including the first conference title since 1984.
A 1983 graduate of UTC and a former defensive back for Chattanooga, Huesman used his 25 years of coaching experience to change the culture of Mocs football – in the classroom, in competition and in the community.
Coach Huesman led Chattanooga to its first SoCon title since 1984 and just its fifth in school history in 2013. He directed the Mocs to an overall record of 8-4, with a 6-2 mark in league play. UTC finished its season as the top defensive squad in the SoCon, leading the conference in scoring defense (20.4) and total defense (328.9).
The Mocs had a number of firsts in 2013, including the most wins ever in SoCon play. The eight wins are the most since 1980 and Chattanooga swept the league’s Coach of the Year (Russ Huesman), Offensive Player of the Year (Jacob Huesman) and Defensive Player of the Year (Davis Tull) honors for the first time.
The Mocs were nationally ranked for several weeks in 2013, finishing the year in the top 25 in both the FCS Coaches Poll (23) and The Sports Network Poll (21). It was the first time since 1984 that Chattanooga was listed in a year-ending national poll.
Coach Huesman also became just the second UTC head coach be named SoCon Coach of the Year by his peers (Buddy Nix, 1990). Huesman took the honor for the second time, joining Joe Morrison as the only Mocs coaches to win multiple SoCon Coach of the Year honors. He was also a finalist for the Eddie Robinson Award as the National Coach of the Year.
Since taking over in 2009, Chattanooga is 31-25 under Huesman. The Mocs did not win 31 games in the nine seasons combined prior to his arrival. His 23-17 Southern Conference record is the best five-year mark since 1987-91.
The Mocs have had at least seven named to the All-SoCon team in each of Huesman’s five years, including a school record nine in 2010 and 2013. Prior to his arrival, UTC had not had seven members on any All-SoCon team since 1979.
Senior defensive end Josh Beard went from a virtual unknown to the 2009 SoCon Defensive Player of the Year. Davis Tull was the first sophomore in nearly 20 years to win SoCon Defensive Player of the Year when he grabbed the award in 2012. He repeated again in 2013 and Jacob Huesman was the first Moc to earn SoCon Offensive Player of the Year honor.
Beard (2009), Tull (2012), kicker Craig Camay (2009), receiver Joel Bradford (2010), tight end Faysal Shafaat (2012), linebacker Wes Dothard (2011 & 2012) and defensive back Kadeem Wise (2013) have given the Mocs seven All-American honors in Huesman's five seasons.
Receiver Blue Cooper (2009) and offensive lineman Chris Harr (2010) signed free agent contracts with the Philadelphia Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs, respectively. Defensive back Buster Skrine was drafted in the fifth round by the Cleveland Browns in 2011 and quarterback B.J. Coleman was taken in the seventh round by the Green Bay Packers in 2012. Chris Lewis-Harris (2011) was a free agent pickup of the Cincinnati Bengals and saw action in 2012 and 2013.
As good as things have been on the field, they have been even better off it. A school record 10 Mocs made the Academic All-SoCon team in 2009 and a total of 37 have made the squad in the last five years. In the six years prior to Huesman, only 14 Mocs made the league’s academic squad. UTC also posted its highest APR scores in 2010, 2011 and 2013, getting out of APR penalties for the first time since 2005.
Fans certainly took notice of all of this success as attendance skyrocketed over the last five years. After seeing just 5,748 fans per game in the year prior to Huesman taking over, the Mocs have averaged more than 10,000 fans in three of the last five seasons.
Prior to his return to Chattanooga Huesman spent the previous 25 years building a reputation as one of the top defensive minded assistant coaches in the country.
Huesman was the defensive coordinator at the University of Richmond from 2004-08, helping guide the Spiders to the 2008 Football Championship Subdivision National Title. Richmond was known for its "Stonewall Defense," a phrase that was coined by Bruce Dowd of the College Sporting News. The Spiders' defense was ranked in the top-15 in the nation from 2006-08 under Huesman's guidance.
The "Stonewall Defense" was most impressive in the 2008 national title game played in Chattanooga. His Spiders held the No. 4 Montana Grizzlies scoreless for three quarters, and just seven points total, in a 24-7 win. In four seasons Huesman produce a total of 19 defensive all-conference players, including NFL draftee Lawrence Sidbury, Jr. (DL - 2009) who was a two-time first team All-CAA pick in 2007 and 2008.
Huesman spent six years at the University of Memphis (1998-2003) where he held several positions, serving as the recruiting coordinator and offensive line coach, before leaving for Richmond. He also coached the outside linebackers, tight ends and running backs. As recruiting coordinator, Huesman brought in a top-50 recruiting class, ranked No. 1 in Conference USA, in 2002. It was the first recruiting class ranked in the top-50 at Memphis.
Huesman also coached for 14 years at William & Mary and was the Tribe's defensive coordinator for the 1996-97 seasons. During his tenure with the Tribe, Huesman coached current NFL star Darren Sharper, who led a defense ranked second in the nation, allowing just 231.8 yards per game in 1996. That defensive squad also led the Yankee Conference in total defense and helped power the Indians to their first conference title since 1970. In 1997, the Tribe defense was third overall in the Atlantic 10 and led the league in pass efficiency defense.
In addition to coordinating the Tribes' defense, Huesman, also coached the secondary, a job he took over in 1991. In eight seasons under his direction, the College of William & Mary developed one of the most effective backfields in the nation.
During his time at William & Mary, Huesman also coached Steve Christie, a 15-year NFL place kicker with Tampa Bay, Buffalo, San Diego and the New York Giants. His coaching family tree also includes Mike Tomlin, head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Alan Williams, the defensive backs coach for the Indianapolis Colts and Sean McDermott, the defensive coordinator for the Carolina Panthers. All three played for Huesman at William & Mary.
A native of Cincinnati, Ohio, Huesman played prep football at perennial power Moeller High School, where he lettered for four years under head coach Gerry Faust. He helped Moeller's team compile a record of 43-0-1 and win a pair of Ohio state championships.
An all-city selection in football as a senior, Huesman signed a football scholarship with Chattanooga, where he started all four years as a defensive back (1978-81) and was a two-sport athlete. He played under the late Joe Morrison for two years and competed his final two seasons under Bill Oliver. Huesman also patrolled centerfield on the baseball diamond for the Mocs during his freshman and junior seasons.
During his playing career at UTC, the Mocs posted a 31-11-2 mark and were Southern Conference co-Champions in his freshman and sophomore seasons.
Huesman was on the Mocs' sidelines for the 1982 season as a student coach, earning his degree in business education in 1983. He followed that up with a move to the University of South Carolina as a graduate assistant under Morrison.
Huesman and his wife Amy have two daughters, Natalie (18) and Emily (15) and two sons, Jacob (21) and Levi (11).
Head Coaching Record
Updated May 2014