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Faulkner keeps moving up coaching ladder

Buster Faulkner

Buster Faulkner

Buster Faulkner still remembers as a senior at Parkview High School, talking to his coach Robert Hill about what he wanted to do when he grew up.

Faulkner expressed interest in coaching and Hill didn't steer him away.

"He said it's a little tougher to coach than play because you can't control what's going on on the field," Faulkner said.

Almost 10 years later, Faulkner hasn't give up on his dream of being a college football coach. Faulkner was named the quarterback coach and passing game coordinator at Middle Tennessee State University in January. It's his fourth different college coaching job in as many years.

"When you've got an opportunity like this it's hard to pass up," Faulkner said.

Faulkner spent last season at Murray State where he guided the Racers' offense to a record-setting year as the offensive coordinator. The team broke 27 school records and had nearly 5,000 yards of total offense. The team went from 115th in the nation on offense in 2009 to No. 5 in the nation under Faulkner's guidance, averaging 36 points and 313.5 yards a game.

"It's kind of like playing chess," Faulkner said. "You have to have the pieces in the right place."

Faulkner is a 2000 Parkview grad and led the Panthers to the 1997 state championship as a sophomore quarterback. He walked on at Division II power Valdosta State and made a name for himself. Faulkner earned All-American honorable mention as a sophomore, leading the Blazers to the national championship game.

"With me, winning is what I believe in," Faulkner said. "I probably hate more to lose than I like to win."

He played from 2000-03, passing for 7,100 yards and 64 touchdowns and compiling a 47-6 record. Faulkner transferred his senior year to Texas A&M Commerce, where he set 10 school records.

Faulkner returned to Valdosta State the following year and began his coaching career as a student assistant under David Dean and earned his degree in history.

"I owe it to him for getting me my start in this profession," Faulkner said.

Faulkner spent one year at Georgia as a graduate assistant under Mark Richt and then returned to Valdosta State as the quarterbacks coach. He helped guide the Blazers to the 2007 Division II national championship and became offensive coordinator the following year.

Faulkner reunited with his former head coach Chris Hatcher at Central Arkansas in 2009 and then took the offensive coordinator spot at Murray State last year.

Faulkner runs a fast-paced, high-octane spread offense, which is from the original spread guru. Before the offense became trendy in recent years, Hal Mumme ran the spread at Valdosta State and later at Kentucky. His quarterback at VSU was Hatcher, who then employed the offense as head coach with Faulkner.

"Any chance you get to do your own thing, you get to add your own wrinkles," Faulkner said.

Faulkner married high school sweetheart Tia Godsey and the couple have two children, Harrison, 4, and Haley Rose, 1, and a third child on the way. His family has had to move quite a bit in recent years, but Faulkner isn't ready to settle down in one place. He still has aspirations to be a head coach and with his steady climb up the coaching ranks it shouldn't take much longer to reach that goal.

"It's the craziest business in the world," Faulkner said. "You never know how it's going to work. I've been very fortunate. My goal is to be a head coach at the highest level I can be."