Ever since former Oklahoma assistant Willie Martinez‘s name was mentioned as a possibility to follow his friend and mentor Brian VanGorder to Auburn, there have been rumors about changes to AU’s defensive staff including speculation of moving Tommy Thigpen.
It’s not speculation anymore, Thigpen is being moved from coaching safeties to linebackers coach.
In making the announcement today, Coach Chizik said that Defensive Coordinator Brian VanGorder will not coach a specific position but “will be involved with all aspects of coaching on the defensive side of the ball.”
The decision to move Thigpen should prove to be a more efficient use of his talent since his background is heavy at the position.
Tommy played college ball for Coach Mac Brown at the University of North Carolina where he was a four year Letterman and a three-time All-ACC Linebacker.
After graduation, he played linebacker for the New York Giants and the Barcelona Dragons. After serving as a graduate assistant coach for the Tar Heels Thigpen saw his first coaching job in 1999 coaching linebackers at Tennessee State.
He also spent two years at the University of Illinois where he coached cornerbacks in 2003 and linebackers in 2004.
He moved back to his Alma-mater the next year and took over the linebacker coaching position. He coached a little known walk-on at UNC by the name of Durell Mapp who made All-ACC and finished with the second most tackles in the ACC. Thigpen coached UNC’s leading tacklers in each of his four seasons at Chapel Hill.
This is a positive move and should help Auburn in recruiting top linebacker talent as well, since Tommy has a reputation as a great recruiter having been named as one of the nation’s top 25 recruiters in 2007 by Rivals.com.