Rick Stockstill, Blue Raiders trade cleats for wrestling boots

MTSU football coach Rick Stockstill observes his players at MTSU's Pro Day held at Tennessee State University in Nashville, Tenn. on Thursday, March 31, 2016. (MTSU Sidelines / John Connor Coulston)

Photo by John Connor Coulston//Managing Editor

The Middle Tennessee football team wrapped up another spring practice Thursday evening.

A little over an hour after practice ended, helmet-to-helmet hits transformed into leg drops and flying elbows Thursday night at the Murphy Center.

The Arcadian Wrestling Association (AWA) hosted its “War of Gods” wrestling event inside the Murphy Center, and MTSU head coach Rick Stockstill and a few members of the Blue Raider football team filed in to watch the explosive action.

“If you’re a college student… take everything in,” Stockstill said. “You get to see wrestling one night, then baseball another night. If you’re a college student, go to everything. You’re crazy if you don’t. I had to drive to Jacksonville to go see wrestling, but they get to walk across the street.”

Not only did Stockstill and members of MTSU watch on, some of them climbed into the ring and experienced the action firsthand.

Stockstill entered the ring and hit wrestler Chris Michaels with a clothesline, following it up with a celebratory “dab” to the fans in attendance.

For Stockstill and the Blue Raiders, a majority of them being wrestling fans, Thursday’s event was a childhood dream coming true.

Growing up, including his days as quarterback at Florida State, Stockstill traveled to watch multiple wrestling events.

“When I got to college, I’d go to Jacksonville and watch wrestling,” Stockstill said. “I watched Dusty Rhodes a lot. And then, probably in the mid-90’s when wrestling got hot again, I watched Triple H, Undertaker, Stone Cold Steve Austin and those guys.”

The MTSU head coach cited “The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes as his all-time favorite wrestler, and recalled many times where he tuned in to watch Rhodes challenge the likes of Ric Flair, Terry Funk and Harley Race.

“I’m old school, so Dusty Rhodes,” Stockstill laughingly said. “‘To sweet to be sour’ and ‘the tower of power.'”

A good portion of MTSU players also enjoy power bombs through tables and savory ladder matches, notably Blue Raider safety Alex Dale.

Dale grew up watching wrestling, and was beyond ecstatic that an event finally arrived on campus.

“I’m number one by far, but for number two I’d go [MTSU offensive lineman] Hunter Rogers,” Dale said when asked about who is the biggest wrestling fan on the team. “I’ve gotten [MTSU kicker] Joe Defatta into wrestling. He asks me about it every week.

“This is my first wrestling event live, but I’m excited.”

Below is a list of some of the Blue Raiders’ favorite heroes inside the ring:

  • Brent Stockstill (QB) – Mick Foley
  • Alex Dale (S) – Stone Cold Steve Austin
  • Chris Hale (DE) – The Undertaker
  • Steven Rhodes (DE) – Kane
  • Mike Minter (CB) – Goldberg
  • Richie James (WR) – Stone Cold Steve Austin
  • Chandler Brewer (OL) – Big Show
  • Desmond Anderson (RB) – Eddie Guerrero
  • Robert Behanan (OL) – Batista
  • Canon Rooker (K) – John Cena
  • Offensive Tackles and Tight Ends Coach Mike Polly – Hulk Hogan
  • Head Coach Rick Stockstill – Dusty Rhodes

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To contact Sports Editor Connor Grott, email sports@mtsusidelines.com or follow him on Twitter at @Connor_Grott.

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