It is the offseason. While spring practice is currently well underway, everyone knows that a team with an entrenched coaching staff is only worried about getting through spring without significant injuries to starters. If a position battle is settled, that's great, but spring is essentially filler material.
So, why not talk about the past? Specifically, let's talk about some of the greatest players that the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders have produced. From Kelly Holcomb to Kevin Byard, MTSU has been able to produce excellent talent on the Division I-AA, FBS, and NFL level.
Who is the GOAT?
- Kelly Holcomb (1992-1995): A four-year starter at quarterback, Holcomb may be the most high-profile athlete in MTSU history. He left MTSU as the all-time leading passer with 7,064 yards and as All-OVC in 1992 and 1994. Holcomb was the MVP of the 1994 Blue-Gray game before heading to the NFL. He spent 12 seasons in the NFL, mostly as a backup. Holcomb ended his NFL career with 5,916 yards passing and 39 touchdowns. He was elected to the Blue Raider Hall of Fame in 2008.
- Tyrone Calico (1999-2002): The first star player during the FBS years for Middle Tennessee, Calico was a stud receiver from the beginning. He caught 194 passes for 2,636 yards and 17 touchdowns at MTSU. Calico was drafted in the second round (60th overall) by the Tennessee Titans and played three years in the NFL.
- Marty Carter (1987-1990): Another defensive back to make this list, Marty Carter was one of the best players during the last 1980s and early 1990s. He was named Co-OVC Player of the Year as a senior. Carter was one of the most productive Blue Raiders at the NFL level, making 868 tackles and 13 interceptions during his 11 year career. He made at least 11 starts in 10 of his 11 seasons.
- Dwight Dasher (2007-2010): Though his career with MTSU was not without turbulence, Dasher was the beginning of a new type of quarterback. He could pass and run, making him almost impossible to stop at times. He was at his best in 2009 with 2,789 yards passing (23 touchdowns) to go along with 1,154 yards rushing (13 touchdowns). Dasher ended his career at MTSU with 5,643 yards passing and 40 touchdowns, in addition to 2,419 yards rushing and 24 touchdowns.
- Dwone Hicks (1999-2002): Coming in along with Calico, Hicks was the first 1,000 yard rusher at the FBS level for the Blue Raiders. He was the 2001 Sun Belt Offensive Player of the Year with 20 rushing touchdowns. Hicks ended his career with three straight 1,000 yard seasons and 3,613 total rushing yards. He added 57 catches for 679 yards and another six touchdowns at MTSU.
- James Griffin (1979-1982): A defensive back, Griffin was one of the first recruits to sign with legendary head coach Boots Donnelly. Griffin left MTSU as the leader in career interceptions with 17. He was a two-time All-OVC selection and seventh round NFL draft pick. Griffin spent seven season in the NFL with the Bengals and Lions. He ended his NFL career with 19 career interceptions, capped by seven in 1985 and six in 1987. He was elected to the Blue Raider Hall of Fame in 2014.
- Mike Caldwell (1989-1992): A linebacker from Oak Ridge, Caldwell was a Division I-AA All-American as a senior. Caldwell collected 248 career tackles, including 76 and three defensive touchdowns during his senior season. Caldwell was a third round pick of the Browns. He played 11 seasons in the NFL for the Browns, Ravens, Cardinals, Eagles, Bears, and Panthers. Caldwell accumulated 416 tackles, 14.5 sacks, and eight interceptions during his career. He was elected to the Blue Raider Hall of Fame in 2012.
- Don Griffin: (1982-1985): A defensive back, Griffin was a three-time All-OVC performer, the 1985 OVC Defensive Player of the Year, and a Division I-AA All-American in 1985. He spent 11 years in the NFL for the 49ers, Browns, and Eagles. Griffin was named the 1986 NFC Defensive Rookie of the Year, UPI First Team All-Pro in 1989, UPI Second Team All-Pro in 1987 and 1990, and part of the All-NFC team. His career included 25 interceptions, 465 tackles, and 12 fumble recoveries. He was elected to the Blue Raider Hall of Fame in 1998.
- Ray Oldham (1969-1972): A star defensive back at MTSU from in the early 1970s, Oldham was a a three-year starter and two-time All-OVC defender. Oldham played for the Colts, Steelers, Giants, and Lions during his 10 year NFL career. He accumulated 14 interceptions during his career. He was elected to the Blue Raider Hall of Fame in 1983.
- Dwight Stone (1985-1986): A JUCO transfer that ended up at Middle Tennessee in 1985, Stone rushed for 679 yards and 13 touchdowns. He was a major part of the #1 ranked Division I-AA team that season. Stone spent 14 seasons in the NFL, accumulating 154 catches, 103 rushes for 596 yards, and 186 kickoff returns for a 21.1 yards per return average. Stone played for the Steelers, Panthers, and Jets in his NFL career. He was elected to the Blue Raider Hall of Fame in 1998.
Others earning mention: Erik Walden, Phillip Tanner, Jerry DeLucca, Dave Little, Ken Tippins, Teddy Morris, Kippy Bayless, Jonathan Quinn, Kevin Byard, Benny Cunningham, Rod Isaac, Kerry Wright.