After a year as an assistant with Missouri Southern, Thomas returns to the Demon football program---this time as a head coach.
“It’s been really exciting,” Thomas said. “It’s a lot of work, but things are running a lot smoother as we head into camp.”
It all comes full circle for Thomas. In 2010 and 2011, Thomas was the assistant head coach and defensive line coach under former head coach Bradley Dale Peveto. Previously, Thomas coached at Nicholls State and compiled at 27-35 record from 2004 to 2009.
Thomas has the challenge of restoring the tradition of Demon football that dates back to 1907. NSU has not made the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs since 2004.
“When we look at it, it wasn’t broke here,” Thomas said. “We don’t have to do a huge job of trying to fix everything. It’s just a different philosophy in a few areas. It’s not that far [to where we want to be].”
Heading into this season, the Demons have to replace former quarterback Brad Henderson. Redshirt freshman Daniel Hazelwood currently leads a competition that includes junior Don Canyon.
“It’s still a wide open competition from the way we’re looking at it,” Thomas said during the Southland Conference’s Media Day. “Daniel Hazelwood came out of the spring as the guy. We’ve got some new guys coming in, and we’re looking forward to having them. They’ve been around this summer working out. It’s going to be very interesting, and I’m looking forward to it. We’ve got some good arms and very ‘heady’ players. It looks like it’ll be a lot of fun watching them learn and develop.”
Thomas will also be implementing changes on both sides of the ball. On offense, the Demons will look to speed up the pace with a no-huddle style and on defense, the team will switch to a 3-4 formation. Yet, he will keep the basics despite the changes.
“We’re all fundamental coaches and that’s where it all starts,” Thomas said. “In the beginning, we start from the basics. Then it evolves as you go in the process schematically.”
Most importantly, he has the fan support of alums and Natchitoches residents. Northwestern State held its Demon Victory Tour in Alexandria, Baton Rouge, Shreveport, Many and Natchitoches to a good turnout.
“Everyone has welcomed us welcomed us with open arms,” Thomas said. “This is not about one guy. It’s not all about one coach, one player or me. We are in this together. It makes it so exciting just to see everyone.”
With everyone’s help the Demons hope to live up to this year’s slogan---“Rise Together”.