Stacy Searels, who was once considered one of the best offensive linemen in the Southeastern Conference, served as LSU’s offensive line coach from 2003-06 before departing to take the same position at Georgia in January of 2007.
Searels is a former All-American offensive lineman at Auburn, who made it a habit of producing All-American linemen for LSU. In four years as the Tigers’ offensive line coach, he has coached two First-Team All-Americans in Stephen Peterman and Ben Wilkerson and a Second-Team All-American in Andrew Whitworth.
In addition, during that four-year stretch, LSU’s offensive line has produced a pair of First-Team Academic All-Americans in Rodney Reed and Rudy Niswanger. The Tigers have had an offensive lineman named a First-Team Academic All-American for four of the last five years.
Searels may have done his best coaching job in 2006 as he took a Tiger offensive line that lost three starters from a year ago and forged it into one of the most consistent lines in the league. As a unit, the Tigers allowed only 19 sacks, which ranked third in the SEC. They also paved the way for a Tiger offense that led the league in both scoring (33.7 points) and total offense (417 yards).
Under Searels watch in 2005, Niswanger became the most decorated student-athlete in school history, winning the Draddy Award as college football’s top scholar-athlete as well as being named the inaugural recipient of the Wuerffel Trophy. The University Medalist also claimed the SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year Award for football following the 2005 season and was named the recipient of the H. Boyd McWhorter Award, which goes to the overall top scholar-athlete in the SEC.
Searels coached five former Tigers to roster spots in the NFL, with Whitworth being a second round pick of the Cincinnati Bengals in 2006; Peterman a fourth round pick of the Dallas Cowboys in 2004; and Wilkerson, Niswanger and Nate Livings signing free agent contracts.
On the field in 2005, Whitworth set a SEC record by starting in 52 straight games during his career, one shy of the NCAA record.
Searels’ 2004 offensive line consisted of a Rimington Award winner (Ben Wilkerson) along with First-Team All-SEC offensive tackle Whitworth. Despite having eight different starting combinations on the offensive line, LSU still managed to lead the SEC in rushing with over 193 yards per contest.
In 2003, his first year with the Tigers, Peterman earned First-Team All-America honors, while Wilkerson was a Second-Team All-America pick by the Associated Press. In addition, senior tackle Rodney Reed became LSU’s first two-time First-Team Academic All-American.
In all, the Tiger offensive line paved the way for a 1,000-yard rusher in Justin Vincent, while also limiting opponents to only 22 sacks in 14 games. LSU held its opponent without a sack in four of the last five regular-season contests.
Searels joined the LSU staff after a two-year stint as offensive line coach at Cincinnati. During his stay with the Bearcats, Cincinnati played in two bowl games and won the school’s first conference title since 1964 by capturing the 2002 Conference USA crown.
In 2002, Searels coached an offensive line that helped the Bearcats lead C-USA in total offense (397.5 yards per game), while averaging 29.2 points a contest.
Prior to joining the Cincinnati staff, Searels served as an assistant coach at Appalachian State from 1994-2000, helping the I-AA squad to five playoff appearances and a pair of Southern Conference titles. He also coached players to five All-America and 15 all-conference honors in seven years as an offensive line and tight ends coach.
While with the Mountaineers, Searels was presented with the NCAA Award of Valor, which has been given only eight times since its inception in 1974, for his for act of courage following a head-on collision involving a van carrying members of the Appalachian State football team and support staff on Sept. 30, 2000.
With the Mountaineer van burning, Searels pulled out two staff members, who were trapped in the vehicle (11 other passengers in the van were able to escape on their own). Moments after Searels got the two staff members to safety, the van was engulfed in flames. Searels, who had been traveling on the team bus behind the van, had saved the life of his student assistant coach (Jonathan Taylor) and assistant athletic trainer (Tony Barnett). Taylor, who was airlifted to a hospital, spent three weeks in intensive care before making a complete recovery.
The NCAA Award of Valor honors those who, “when confronted with a situation involving personal danger, averted or minimized potential disaster by courageous action or noteworthy bravery.”
Searels got his start in coaching as a graduate assistant at Auburn in 1992, working with the Tiger squad that posted a perfect 11-0 mark in 1993.
As a player, Searels earned First Team All-America honors from both the Associated Press and Football News as a senior at Auburn in 1987. Searels was a three-year starter for Auburn, blocking for Heisman Trophy winner Bo Jackson in 1985 and All-America Brent Fullwood in 1986. He participated in four bowl games as a member of the Auburn football team.
A First-Team All-SEC selection as both a junior and senior, he was honored with the team’s Ken Rice Award as the school’s best blocking lineman in 1987. He played in both the Japan Bowl and the Senior Bowl following the 1987 season. In 1990, the Birmingham Post-Herald named Searels to the Auburn team of the 1980’s.
Searels was a fourth round draft pick by the San Diego Chargers in 1988, playing two seasons there before moving to the Miami Dolphins for the 1990 season. He ended his professional career in 1991 with the New York/New Jersey Knights of the World League of American Football.
Searels, a Trion, Ga., native, graduated from Auburn with a degree in marketing and transportation in 1990. He followed that with a master’s degree in higher education administration from Auburn in 1995. Searels is married to the former Patricia Hale and the couple has two daughters, Taylor (8) and Savannah (5).