NCF Nation: Tommy Thigpen

Jones' staff at Tennessee taking shape

December, 10, 2012
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New Tennessee coach Butch Jones hasn't wasted any time in putting his staff together, and he's trying to close the deal on one of the biggest pieces to that staff.

Former Tennessee quarterback Tee Martin, who helped lead the Vols to the 1998 national championship, was in Knoxville on Monday to meet with Jones. Martin spent the 2012 season on Lane Kiffin's staff at USC as the Trojans' receivers coach. He was at Kentucky prior to that for two seasons as receivers coach and was the Wildcats' passing game coordinator in 2011.

Martin's ability to sell Tennessee's program to recruits would be invaluable for Jones as he takes on the challenge of recruiting in the SEC. Martin has strong ties in the Atlanta area as well as the entire state of Tennessee and his hometown of Mobile, Ala. Martin was the point man in getting top cornerback prospect Jalen Ramsey of Brentwood (Tenn.) Academy to commit to USC earlier this year.

Martin isn't the only former Vol that Jones wants on his staff. Jay Graham has agreed to remain as the running backs coach. He held that same title this past season under Derek Dooley and was an All-SEC running back for the Vols in 1995 and 1996. Graham, too, has proven to be a very effective recruiter. He helped lure Marcus Lattimore to South Carolina while coaching the Gamecocks' running backs prior to returning to his alma mater.

Jones plans to add two members of Auburn's defensive staff from this past season -- secondary coach Willie Martinez and linebackers coach Tommy Thigpen. Martinez was the defensive coordinator at Georgia from 2005-09 and was with Mark Richt at Georgia from 2001-09 before getting fired following the 2009 season. Thigpen was on Auburn's staff all four seasons under Gene Chizik and was at North Carolina prior to that.

Jones will also bring several of his assistants from Cincinnati, including offensive coordinator Mike Bajakian and defensive coordinator John Jancek, who coached linebackers under Martinez at Georgia and was the Bulldogs' co-defensive coordinator in 2009.

Three others Jones plans to bring with him from Cincinnati are offensive line coach Don Mahoney, defensive line coach Steve Stripling and tight ends/special teams coach Mark Elder.

Eight SEC coaches among top recruiters

February, 10, 2011
2/10/11
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ESPN recruiting analysts Corey Long and Jamie Newberg have come up with their list of the 25 best recruiters in college football this year.

These are all assistant coaches, and eight SEC coaches made the cut -- Sal Sunseri of Alabama, Tim Horton of Arkansas, Trooper Taylor and Tommy Thigpen of Auburn, Mike Bobo of Georgia, Frank Wilson of LSU, G.A. Mangus of South Carolina and Charlie Baggett of Tennessee.

The ACC was second with five assistant coaches on the list.

I put together my own list earlier this month of the SEC's top 25 recruiters among assistant coaches, and six of the eight SEC guys on the national list were also on my list. The two I didn't have on my list (Mangus and Thigpen) should have been.

Bottom line: If you can't recruit in the SEC, you're probably not going to be around very long -- or you better be one of the best position coaches in the business.

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