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Faulkner's coaching career off to Blazing start

The name Buster won't make it to another generation of Faulkners. At least not this generation.

Buster Faulkner said his wife, Tia, nixed the idea of another Buster, a nickname he got from his father and one that got its roots from the 25-year-old's grandfather, who also was known by the moniker.

So when the Faulkners welcomed their first child on June 22, it got Buster's given name - Edward Harrison Faulkner Jr. - just not his nickname. He's going by Harrison.

He may not be able to call Harrison a quarterback, either. The newborn's dad was a smallish (5-foot-11) quarterback, but

Harrison came out looking more like a lineman at 9 pounds, 2 ounces and 211⁄4 inches.

"He's a big boy," said Faulkner, a 2000 Parkview grad who was the starting quarterback on the Panthers' first state title team in 1997. "He's not sleeping through the night, not at all. But that's part of it. He sleeps through the day and he's up all night."

His son's birth is part of a whirlwind time for Faulkner.

He got married in May 2006, had a great opportunity as a graduate assistant at the University of Georgia last fall and was hired for his first full-time college coaching job earlier this year. Still barely removed from college, he's the quarterbacks coach at his alma mater, Valdosta State.

Coaching opportunities have worked out well for Faulkner since he exhausted his college eligibility at Texas A&M-Commerce in 2004. He spent just one season at the Texas school after spending three at Valdosta State, where he led the Blazers to the

Division II championship game as a sophomore by throwing for 3,826 yards and 41 touchdowns.

Faulkner returned to

Valdosta State in 2005 as a student assistant coach while he finished his undergraduate degree. He assisted then-head coach Chris Hatcher with the quarterbacks - his role included signaling offensive plays - and was offensive coordinator of the school's JV team.

Then-Georgia assistant coach Neil Callaway hired him as a graduate assistant with the Bulldogs for the 2006 season. He worked with the offensive line and quarterbacks there, while soaking up knowledge from quarterbacks coach Mike Bobo, who he called one of his childhood heroes.

"I learned a lot from Coach Bobo and (UGA) Coach (Mark) Richt about handling quarterbacks," said Faulkner, who will get to come home regularly now because he recruits Gwinnett for Valdosta State. "Their resumes speak for themselves. I've been fortunate to be so young and work with guys like Coach Bobo, Coach Richt, Coach Hatcher and Coach (David) Dean, the offensive coordinator when I played here (and now Valdosta State's head coach).

"I learned a lot at Georgia. I not only learned a lot of ball, but I learned a lot about other things in life through Coach Richt's example of putting family and God first."

Despite all the big coaching names he's worked with or for in his short career, Faulkner still has a special relationship with Robert Hill, his offensive coordinator at Parkview.

"That's always my No. 1 guy," Faulkner said of Hill. "Me and him talk two or three times a week. It may be 10 seconds or it may be an hour and 20 minutes. Sometimes he'll call and he'll say, 'Listen to what we did today.' He'll say it and then it's 'Alright, goodbye.' I won't even say a word."

His relationship with Hill is indicative of how Faulkner always thought of his coaches, whether it was in college or in the Gwinnett Football League, the county's youth feeder system. He rattles off coach after coach who made an impact on him, in the process forming a career path for Faulkner.

He knew from a very early age what he wanted to do. Now he's doing it at the college level.

"I want to be the best coach that ever lived, whatever that level may be (college, pro or high school)," Faulkner said. "When I was younger I wanted to be Bear Bryant, Vince Lombardi. That's how much I loved it."

"Catching up with..." is a series that profiles former Gwinnett County athletes and their lives beyond high school competition. This feature will run throughout the summer. If you have suggestions about former standouts, send them to sports@gwinnettdailypost.com.

SideBar: THE FAULKNER FILE

Name: Buster Faulkner

Position: Quarterbacks coach at Valdosta State

Age: 25

Education: Graduated from Parkview in 2000; earned degree in history from Valdosta State in January 2006

Background: Guided Parkview to its first state football title as the starting quarterback in 1997; led Valdosta State to first Division II national title game appearance as a sophomore in 2002; threw for 3,826 yards and 41 TDs in 2002, completing 65.0 percent of his passes; played his final season at Texas A&M-Commerce and set seven school records; had 7,074 career passing yards between the two schools; was a student assistant at Valdosta State in 2005; worked as a graduate assistant at UGA in 2006

Family: Wife Tia; son Harrison, three weeks