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 six years, including back-to-back Southern Conference titles and the first trip to the FCS Playoffs 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. UTC followed that with a historic 10-4 record and a perfect 7-0 SoCon mark in 2014. The Mocs went to the FCS Playoffs for the second time in school history in 2014, advancing to the Final Eight for the first time.
Since taking over in 2009, Chattanooga is 41-29 under Huesman. The Mocs did not win 41 games in the 12 seasons combined prior to his arrival. His 30-17 Southern Conference record is the best six-year mark since 1986-91.
The Mocs have had at least seven named to the All-SoCon team in each of Huesman’s six years, including a school record 17 in 2014. 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 went on to win three-straight defensive honors, while Jacob Huesman is the two-time defending SoCon Offensive Player of the Year.
Beard (2009), Tull (2012-14), Huesman (2014), kicker Craig Camay (2009), receiver Joel Bradford (2010), tight end Faysal Shafaat (2012, 2014), linebacker Wes Dothard (2011 & 2012), defensive back Kadeem Wise (2013), offensive lineman Corey Levin (2014) and punt returner Tommy Hudson (2014) have given the Mocs 10 All-American honors in Huesman's six seasons.
Defensive back Buster Skrine (Cleveland - 5th - 2011), quarterback B.J. Coleman (Green Bay - 7th - 2012) and Tull (New Orleans - 5th - 2015) were all taken in the NFL Draft in Huesman's tenure.
Defensive back Chris Lewis-Harris (2011) was a free agent pickup of the Cincinnati Bengals and has played in 12 games over the last three years. Receiver Blue Cooper (Philadelphia - 2009), offensive lineman Chris Harr (Kansas City - 2010) and Derrick Lott (Tennessee - 2015) all signed free agent contracts following their careers at UTC.
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 44 have made the squad in the last six 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 the last three years.
Fans certainly took notice of all of this success as attendance skyrocketed over the last six 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 four of the last six 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 (19) and Emily (16) and two sons, Jacob (22) and Levi (12).
Head Coaching Record
Updated June 2015