Perhaps the most decorated defensive player in NCAA Division I FCS (Football Championship Subdivision — formerly Division I-AA) history, Coakley remains ASU’s all-time leader in total tackles (616), solo tackles (350), assisted tackles (266), double-figure tackle games (37) and 20-tackle games (7).
He was the 1993 SoCon Freshman of the Year, a three-time Southern Conference Defensive Player of the Year (1994-96 — still the only three-time recipient of the award), a two-time SoCon Male Athlete of the Year (1995-96 and 1996-97), a three-time All-American (one of only two three-time consensus first-team All-Americans in ASU history) and the winner of the first two Buck Buchanan Awards (1995 and ‘96). Fifteen years after he won the second of his two Buchanan Awards, Coakley remains the only two-time winner of award, which is presented annually to the nation’s top FCS defensive player.
Coakley graduated from ASU in 1997 with a B.S. in communications and was selected by the Dallas Cowboys in the third round (65th overall pick) of that year’s National Football League Draft. He went on to enjoy a 10-year NFL career, playing eight seasons in Dallas and two with the St. Louis Rams. He was selected to play in three Pro Bowls (1999, 2001 and 2003) and, in 10 pro seasons, totaled 687 tackles and 10 interceptions and missed just one game due to injury.
He is one of only four players in Appalachian football history to have his jersey number retired. ASU retired the No. 32 Coakley wore as a Mountaineer in 2005.
Coakley headlines the six members of this year’s College Football Hall of Fame divisional class, which was announced on Tuesday. North Dakota State center Mike Favor (1985-88), James Madison linebacker Charles Haley (1982-85), Dayton coach Mike Kelly (1981-2007), Trinity (Conn.) back Mickey Kobrosky (1933-36) and Widener, Delaware Valley and LaSalle coach Bill Manlove (1969-2001) are the other members of the divisional class, which includes players and coaches from NCAA Division I FCS, Division II, Division III and the NAIA.
Last week, the Hall of Fame announced its newest 14-member class of inductees from NCAA Division I FBS (Football Bowl Subdivision — formerly Division I-A), which won’t be officially enshrined until 2012. Included in that group is Fisher DeBerry, who was an assistant coach at ASU from 1971-79 before an ultra-successful 23-year stint as the head coach at Air Force from 1984-2006.
Tuesday’s announcement ironically comes on the same day that Coakley will be inducted into the Southern Conference Hall of Fame. The SoCon’s induction ceremony will be held Tuesday evening in Charleston, S.C.