Blue and Gold Illustrated

March 2022

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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20 MARCH 2022 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED BY TYLER HORKA A sk Chansi Stuckey 10 years ago if he'd ever envision himself as the wide receivers coach at Notre Dame, and he'd probably have a two-word answer. No way. Stuckey had just finished his playing career in 2012. He nearly made it to 30 years old as a professional football player, which spoke to how hard he worked at his craft considering he was 6-feet tall with a bump on his head and right around 200 pounds. Those measurables don't exactly scream NFL wide receiver. Not one with longevity, anyway. The Warner Robins, Ga., native still lasted five years in the league with the New York Jets, Cleveland Browns and Ar- izona Cardinals. He last stop as a pro ball player was with the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League. He spent all of three weeks in the CFL. That's when he knew it was time to hang up the cleats. When it was all over, Stuckey didn't immediately get into coaching. That move waited until 2019 when Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney came calling to lure Stuckey back to his alma mater, where he was a two-time All-ACC first- team selection in 2005-06. Stuckey didn't really focus on foot- ball until his senior year of high school. He considered himself more of a base- ball and basketball player before then. Stuckey arrived at Clemson as a raw quarterback but left as a polished wide receiver thanks to Swinney, his position coach. His mentor. The guru he learned his tricks of the trade from. The man who ultimately got him back into football. But again, that would wait. After retiring from football, Stuckey worked as a broadcaster for Sports New York (SNY) and FOX Sports in Las Ve- gas. He also was an actor in the TV series "Diary of an Insecure Boyfriend" and had uncredited roles in football-centric movies "Focus" and "The Best Man Hol- iday." Admittedly, the acting career wasn't flourishing the way he had hoped it would. That's when Swinney made him a 35-year-old video graduate assis- tant, and Stuckey's career path hasn't been the same since. The Tigers made the College Football Playoff both years Stuckey was there. He was an offensive player development coach during their 2020 run to the CFP. He must have done something right. Baylor head coach Dave Aranda wres- tled Stuckey away from his alma mater and made him the wide receivers coach in Waco. In just two years, Stuckey went from handling video to coaching a crop of Power Five pass catchers. A pretty darn good crop, at that. Make no mistake; Baylor won the Big 12 Championship primarily because of its defense. But no team wins a title without a little bit of offense, and Stuckey had his hands all over the aerial side of that. Despite playing a couple of quarter- backs, neither of whom were heralded as elite passers out of high school, Baylor nearly gained 3,000 yards through the air in 2021. Wide receiver Tyquan Thornton had the best year of his career, catching 62 passes for 948 yards and 10 touch- downs. That doubled his previous sin- gle-season scoring mark and was more receiving yards than he had managed in the previous two seasons combined. Stuckey also mentored fifth-year se- nior wide receiver R.J. Sneed to the best year of his career. Sneed caught 46 passes for 573 yards and two touchdowns. The yardage totals of Thornton and Sneed were more than any current Notre Dame wide receiver had in 2021. Senior Kevin Austin Jr. led the team with 888, but he has departed for the NFL Draft. Avery Davis, who missed four games with an ACL injury, is Notre Dame's leading re- turning wide receiver with 386 yards. Thus, the task for Stuckey is simple. He's been charged with the duty of turning around a wide receiver room that has not evolved with the game of college football. And he's going to lean on what he learned from Swinney and his experiences as a first-year position coach at Baylor to do it. Oh, and not to mention the 1,062 yards and five touchdowns he recorded in the NFL. Few players make it to the league, let alone have productive enough seasons to stay in it for half a decade. The Notre Dame wide receivers would be wise to hear him out and take his advice. "Chansi brings a diverse skill set to our staff," Notre Dame head coach Marcus Freeman. "He has NFL playing experience, and also has the ability to connect with our players and push them to develop their craft. I believe with him leading the way, we can build the best receiver room in the country." ✦ CATCHING ON College coaching was a long time in coming for new Irish receiver coach Chansi Stuckey Stuckey didn't begin his coaching career until 2019, but the former NFL receiver spent two years working for one of the best coaches in the country in Clemson's Dabo Swinney and had a successful first year as a position coach mentor- ing the Baylor wide receivers in 2021. PHOTO COURTESY BAYLOR ATHLETICS CHANSI STUCKEY BIOGRAPHY PERSONAL INFORMATION Born: Oct. 4, 1983 Hometown: Warner Robins, Ga. Education: Clemson (2006, bachelor 's in management) Playing career: Clemson, 2003-06 (quarter- back, wide receiver) COACHING CAREER 2019: Clemson, graduate assistant 2020: Clemson, offensive player development 2021: Baylor, wide receivers

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