Phil Ratliff was named Offensive Line Coach and Recruiting Coordinator, Jan. 1, 2012. He was with the program for three seasons, including the red-shirt season of 2012, the inaugural season in 2013 and Season Two in 2014. He passed away Aug. 9, 2015.
In the 49ers first season, the offensive line was a source of pride as head coach Brad Lambert and his staff sought to build the program from the inside out. The solid corps helped the 49ers young team put up stout offensive numbers and ultimately rank 11th in the FCS in fewest sacks allowed (9; 0.8/gm).
2014 brought another set of impressive offensive numbers (487.4 yds/game; 222.4 rushing yds/gm; 12 sacks allowed) and included the 49ers first-ever 1,000-yard rusher (Kalif Phillips, 1441 yds.).
Spring of 2015 brought more highlights. One of Ratliff's proteges with the 49ers, offensive lineman Daniel Blitch, became the first 49er to be invited to an NFL preseason camp when the Carolina Panthers invited him to rookie minicamp, this spring. Blitch, who graduated in December, 2014, spent three years with the 49ers offensive line, including the red-shirt season of 2012, the 49ers inaugural season of 2013 and Season Two in 2014. In Ratliff’s previous stop at Marshall, he also recruited and coached Eric Frohnapfel, who finished his career at Marshall last fall and signed with San Diego Chargers as a free agent, this spring. In addition, another of Ratliff's pupils at Marshall, Lee Smith, who played four years with the Buffalo Bills, recently signed a three-year, $9.1 million contract with the Oakland Raiders. Gator Hoskins, who also played for Ratliff at Marshall, played with the Miami Dolphins in 2014 before joining the Seattle Seahawks.
The 49ers have been able to secure two of the past three winners of the Hunt Award, which goes to the top lineman in West Virginia (Eugene German, 2012; Trevor Stacy, 2014).
A two-time all-America on the offensive line at Marshall who has been inducted into the school’s athletic Hall of Fame, Ratliff was the Thundering Herd’s Tight Ends coach for six years (2006-11).
He joined Marshall’s coaching staff after spending two years at James Madison, helping the Dukes to the 2004 NCAA Div. I-AA National Championship. Ratliff played at Marshall from 1989-92 while Lambert was on the coaching staff and captained the Thundering Herd’s 1992 NCAA Division I-AA National Championship team. As a coach, he helped the Herd to the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl in 2009 and Beef O’Brady’s Bowl in 2011.
“He played for us at Marshall and he was a very intense player. He will bring that intensity to the offensive line,” Lambert said. “He’s coached at all levels: high school, FBS, FCS. He’s recruited the Charlotte area in particular for a number of years and that’s very important to us. He’ll do a great job with the guys, handling the players and do a great job representing our university with his integrity and character.”
Following his playing days, Ratliff was a student assistant at Marshall (1993), defensive coordinator at Lawrence County (Ky.) H.S. (1994-99) and coach at Spring Valley (W. Va.) H.S. (2000-03).
A native of Louisa, Ky., Ratliff received his bachelor’s degree in elementary education with a specialization in special education from Marshall in 1994. He and his wife Jenni have two children: Haley and Dylan. They live in Harrisburg, N.C.
2-time all-America (offensive line)
2012-14: Offensive Line; Recruiting Coord
2013: 5-6; Inaugural Season
Marshall, 2006-11: Tight Ends
James Madison, 2004-05:
Spring Valley H.S., 2000-03
Lawrence County (Ky.) H.S. 1994-99: Defensive Coordinator
Marshall, 1993: Student Assistant
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