Note: The following appears in the Notre Dame football gameday program.
On Jan. 13, 2022, the day after he was named the new wide receivers coach at Notre Dame, I received a text from Chansi Stuckey.
“Where should I live?”
It certainly brought a smile to my face, because not only was Stuckey one of my favorite players to deal with when it came to media relations, he also worked as an intern in the sports information office for a semester.
Now, he was going to be full-time coach at my alma mater.
In less than two years, Stuckey has been a key member of Head Coach Marcus Freeman’s staff as wide receivers coach, helping the Fighting Irish to a 9-4 record in 2022 and a 7-2 mark so far in 2023.
It has been an interesting journey for Stuckey, who turned 40 one month ago.
I knew Stuckey would be successful regardless of his career path just by the way he interacted with the other student assistants in our office. He was inquisitive about the job and he was not going through the motions for course credit.
“I learned a lot,” said Stuckey. “I didn’t know anything about sports information when I started. I thought all that information came out of thin air. I saw a lot of work by many people involved.”
Stuckey came to Clemson from Warner Robins, Ga. and was recruited to Clemson by Assistant Coach Rodney Allison. He also considered Tennessee, where he was recruited by Woody McCorvey, now Head Coach Dabo Swinney’s right-hand man when it comes to the administration of the Tiger program.
Stuckey had a great career, earning All-ACC honors as a wide receiver, and was an all-purpose player during his time as a Tiger player. During his freshman year (2003), he was a reserve quarterback in seven games and had two passing touchdowns. He scored the last touchdown on a 33-yard run in Clemson’s 63-17 win at South Carolina.
He further showed his talents as a punt returner and is one of the few players in Tiger history with a passing touchdown (2), rushing touchdown (1), receiving touchdown (7) and punt return touchdown (1).
He is 15th in Tiger history in career catches (141), two more than Clemson Ring of Honor member Jerry Butler had.
“One of my most memorable moments at Clemson was the punt return against Texas A&M.”
The Tigers won the game 25-24, and Stuckey’s 47-yard punt return was the Tigers’ only touchdown of the game.
Stuckey had seven 100-yard receiving games, including 11 receptions for 156 yards in 2005 against a Florida State team that went on to win the ACC championship.
After the 2006 season, Stuckey was drafted in the seventh round by the New York Jets, and he went on to a four-year NFL career. He finished with 106 receptions for 1,062 yards and five touchdowns in the NFL.
After his playing days were over, Stuckey moved to California and searched for his next calling. He spent time with former Clemson teammate Jock McKissic, who was a television actor. Stuckey spent some time in that profession as well.
His life path changed in January 2019, and his alma mater’s success on the gridiron had a lot to do with it.
“I was living in California and Clemson was in the national championship game against Alabama in Santa Clara. Jock and I decided to go to the game and we met with Coach Swinney.
“Coach Swinney brought us in to meet the team and all the families. I had not thought about going into coaching at that point, but meeting those players and seeing the family atmosphere again made me think.
“When you are in the NFL, you see coaches grinding and looking at film to all hours of the morning. That trip to the national title game tugged at my heart. I couldn’t stop thinking about it.”
Stuckey came to Clemson in the winter of 2019 for Junior Day, and he talked seriously about coming to Clemson in some capacity. Swinney had one position open for a video graduate assistant.
“Coach Swinney didn’t think I would take it. He had talked to me in 2017 about joining the recruiting office, but it just wasn’t the right time.”
But this time, Stuckey was all in and came to Clemson for the 2019 season, a year the Tigers again reached the national championship game.
Stuckey was then elevated to a development coach for the 2020 season, another College Football Playoff season for the Tigers. At the end of the year, he was named wide receivers coach at Baylor.
“Coach Swinney told me once I got into the profession, I would be on the fast track. He gave me confidence and I learned so much from him and the other coaches on the staff.”
After Baylor had a 12-2 season and finished No. 5 in the AP poll thanks in part to the performance of Stuckey’s wide receivers, Freeman came calling.
“It has been a great opportunity to work for Coach Freeman at Notre Dame. I see so many similarities between Coach Freeman and Coach Swinney when it comes to the culture of the program, the importance of player development and their approach to recruiting.
“I have been so fortunate that both coaches took chances on me.”