Mike Rader is entering his seventh season as the Buccaneers’ wide receivers coach and his fourth as the offensive coordinator after head coach Randy Sanders announced the promotion on May 3, 2018. Prior to becoming the Bucs’ offensive coordinator, Rader was ETSU’s recruiting coordinator from 2015-18.
Under the direction of Rader, the Bucs have spread the wealth at the receiver position in the six-year span. Rader has seen 24 different wide receivers reign in at least one catch during their careers, while 13 different receivers have accounted for the 35 receiving touchdowns in six seasons. In the Rader era, the Bucs have accounted for 683 receptions, 8,542 receiving yards and 35 touchdowns in 63 games played.
Rader has coached the likes of Dalton Ponchillia (59 rec., 863 yards, 5 TD) as well as Drake Powell (86 rec., 1,090 yards, 4 TD) and Kobe Kelley (77 rec., 1,002 yards, 2 TD).
The spring 2021 season solidified the emergence of Will Huzzie. The redshirt-sophomore totaled 27 receptions for a team-high 334 yards and three touchdowns. Huzzie has already tied Ponchillia and Vincent Lowe for the most career touchdowns under Rader’s guidance with five.
In his first two seasons as the ETSU offensive coordinator, the Bucs finished inside the top 10 in total offense and yards per play in program history. In 2018, ETSU finished the season with 4,328 total yards of offense, the fourth-most yards in a single season in program history. The Bucs also scored 26.0 points per game, the fifth-most in a single season in ETSU history. The 26.0 points per game enabled the Bucs to go on to clinch a share of the 2018 Southern Conference Championship for the first time in program and just the second appearance in the FCS Playoffs.
Rader has coached 20 All-SoCon honorees in the last three seasons as the offensive coordinator for the Bucs. Rader also coached Will Huzzie to the 2019 All-SoCon Freshman Team, the first wide receiver to receive a conference postseason honor since Cecil Moore in 2001.
Prior to coming back home to Johnson City, Rader spent three seasons as head coach at Maryville College. During his inaugural season with the Scots, Maryville posted a 6-2 record and 5-1 mark within the USA South Athletic Conference giving Maryville its highest finish in the USAC after eight seasons within the league and the school’s first football title since MC’s Highlanders took back-to-back Smoky Mountain Athletic Conference titles in 1930 and 1931.
His 2012 USA South Co-Champions produced 12 All-USA South performers and 14 league All-Academic honorees. Coach Rader’s squad won their final three games with a defense that paced the league in four categories. Their offense boasted the league’s top rusher while averaging 211 yards per game on the ground. His creative offense finished the season averaging over 366 yards per challenge.
Under his leadership, the Fighting Scots accomplished additional historic accolades in 2013. MC earned its first eight-win season since the 1978 campaign and only the fourth eight-win season in school history. That 8-2 overall mark and 6-1 league record earned back-to-back USA South Co-Championships, allowing Maryville’s first-ever trip to the NCAA Division III post-season championship as the league’s automatic bid.
Rader's 2014 squad finished the year with a 7-3 mark, while going 6-2 within the USA South. Rader led a team that posted 408.2 yards per contest, while averaging 271.5 rushing yards per game — a mark that ranked 10th nationally. The Scots led the USA South in four different rushing categories behind a stout, senior-laden offensive line that ranked 23rd nationally with only one sack per outing. That line led the way for Maryville's third-largest individual rushing effort in school history, as Trenton Shuler had 1,046 yards on 182 carries for 12 touchdowns. Shuler's touchdowns ranked him 36th in the nation.
Prior to his Maryville stop, Rader was a former assistant football coach at Huntingdon College in Montgomery, Ala. He coordinated the recruiting efforts and assisted the offense for eight seasons at the Division III, church-related, liberal arts school.
In 2004, Rader was selected by Huntingdon Coach Mike Turk to improve results and bring stability to a second-year start up NCAA Division III program. Rader helped the Hawks earn a 52-20 record while receiving “Top 25” votes in five different seasons.
Rader displayed significant experience in building a successful NCAA Division III program. While at Huntingdon, his Hawks developed one of the most prolific offenses in college football. In 2009, Huntingdon was the only offense in the nation (Divisions I, II, or III) to average over 300 yards of passing and 200 yards of rushing per game. As the Hawks’ recruiting coordinator for two seasons, Rader’s staff brought in more than 170 student-athletes to campus after developing strategies for student-athlete searches, visits and on-campus presentations.
Rader, who is a Johnson City native and played his prep football at Science Hill High School, was a three-year starter at ETSU during a career that spanned from 1998 to 2002. He served as a graduate assistant at ETSU during the 2003 campaign.
Rader received his Bachelor of Arts degree from East Tennessee State University in 2002. A three-year starter on the Buccaneer football squad as a student, he earned a football scholarship after an All-State career as a quarterback and receiver at Science Hill High School in Johnson City.
Following graduation, Rader attained his Master of Arts degree in sports management from ETSU while serving as a graduate assistant for his alma mater. In May of 2018, Rader was in ETSU’s inaugural class to receive his Doctorate in Global Sport Leadership. He then worked for one season at Troy University in Troy, Ala., under head coach Larry Blakeney.
Mike, his wife Lindsey, have four sons Max, Eli, Ellis and Jaxon.