|Date of birth:||October 20, 1972|
|Place of birth:||Mount Pleasant, South Carolina|
|High school:||Mount Pleasant (SC) Wando|
|NFL Draft:||1997 / Round: 3 / Pick: 65|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Career NFL statistics|
|Player stats at PFR|
William Dexter Coakley (born October 20, 1972) is a former American football linebacker who played ten seasons in the National Football League (NFL). He was a third round draft choice of the Dallas Cowboys in the 1997 NFL Draft, out of Division I-AA school Appalachian State. Coakley was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 2011 making him Appalachian State's first inductee.
Coakley graduated from Wando High School, where he earned four letters in football. He was the team's Most Valuable Player twice and was twice named all-conference as a safety, after posting 295 tackles in his final two years.
While at Appalachian State University he grew bigger and was switched to linebacker, becoming the first two-time winner of the Buck Buchanan Awards, given each year to the nation's top Division I-AA defensive player. He was a critical part of the defense on the 1995 Mountaineer team that finished the season unbeaten and untied.
Coakley was named All-American and Southern Conference Defensive Player of the Year as a sophomore, junior and senior, becoming the first player ever to accomplish this feat. He was also the Southern Conference's Athlete of the Year as a junior and senior, marking just the seventh time in conference history that one individual had earned that distinction in consecutive years.
His numerous accolades include being second all-time in tackles in Southern Conference history and breaking the all-time solo tackles (616) and sacks records at Appalachian State University, where his jersey number is retired. He earned a degree in communications and advertising.
He became the starter at weakside linebacker as a rookie in preseason, after competing with second-year player Alan Campos and would never relinquish the position, registering 136 tackles, 10 tackles for loss (led the team), one inerception and one fumble returned for a touchdown. At the end of the season he was named to the NFL All-Rookie team. His speed and athleticism allowed him to become a playmaker in Cowboys defenses that were built around speed and pursuit.
In 1999, he made 131 tackles and intercepted four passes, becoming the first Cowboys linebacker to go to the Pro Bowl since Ken Norton Jr. in 1993. Coakley also received the NFL's "All Iron MVP" award during the 1999 Thanksgiving Day game.
His string of seven consecutive 100-tackle seasons is a franchise record. In addition, he has reached double figures in tackles 37 times in 95 career regular season games. He earned Pro Bowl honors in 1999, 2001 and 2003.
In the 90's, the Cowboys organization felt they could find linebackers through the draft, without the need of paying a premium and adversely impacting the salary cap, so they allowed talented and productive players like Ken Norton Jr., Darrin Smith, Dixon Edwards, Robert Jones and Randall Godfrey, to leave via free agency, instead of signing them into long-term contracts. This philosophy ended when the Cowboys re-signed Coakley to a six-year contract extension in 2001.
While Coakley started all 16 games in 2004, he shared significant time with second year linebacker Bradie James, finishing the year with a career-low 91 tackles (60 solo), ending a streak of seven consecutive 100-tackle seasons. He also had 6 quarterback pressures and 5 passes defensed.
During his eight seasons with the Cowboys, he was a very durable player starting 127 out of 128 games, his only missed game was midway through the 2001 season because of a sprained knee. Coakley is tied with Dennis Thurman for the club record for defensive touchdowns with four, coming on fumble (one) and interception (three) returns. He is the fourth leading tackler in franchise history with 1,046.
St. Louis Rams
One day after being released by the Cowboys, he was signed to a five-year contract, by the St. Louis Rams for nearly double the salary he was getting in Dallas, with a signing bonus of $14 million. Coakley was a starter in 2005, registering 42 tackles, two sacks, and one interception in 12 games for the Rams, before suffering a season-ending fractured fibula and a dislocated ankle.
|Year||Team||Games||Combined Tackles||Tackles||Assisted Tackles||Sacks||Forced Fumbles||Fumble Recoveries||Fumble Return Yards||Interceptions||Interception Return Yards||Yards per Interception Return||Longest Interception Return||Interceptions Returned for Touchdown||Passes Defended|
He is now the linebackers coach at The Oakridge School in Arlington, Texas, along with fellow former NFL player Carlos Francis. He is also the Softball coach at Oakridge. His first year coaching the team won the Division II championships in the Southwest Preparatory Conference.
- Appalachian Sports Information (2011-06-30). "Coakley's HOF Enshrinement Set for July 16". GoASU. Retrieved 2011-07-02.
- Bowman, Tommy (May 24, 2011). "ASU's Coakley named to College Football Hall of Fame". Winston-Salem Journal. Retrieved 2013-05-05.
- "Southern Conference Hall of Fame Bio". May 10, 2011. Retrieved 2013-06-30.
- "College Football Hall of Fame Bio". May 25, 2011. Retrieved 2013-06-30.
- "Top 10: From Emmitt to Dak; Ranking Best Rookie Seasons in Cowboys History". Retrieved February 19, 2017.
- Hill, Clarence (April 13, 2012). "Bradie James, once on pace to challenge the tackles record, leaves as 6th all-time leading tackler". Star-Telegram Sports Blogs. Star-Telegram. Retrieved 2013-05-05.
- "Dexter Coakley Stats". ESPN. ESPN Internet Ventures. Retrieved 26 June 2014.