New defensive GA makes quick impression at USF
TAMPA -- South Dakota coach Ed Meierkort sent his young defensive backs coach, Byron Thomas, down to USF this spring to spend three days learning from Skip Holtz and Bulls defensive coordinator Mark Snyder.
Thomas, a four-year starter at linebacker at South Dakota who graduated in 2009, showed enough in those three days that Holtz has added him to his coaching staff as the Bulls' new defensive graduate assistant.
"The kid is striking. He doesn't carry himself like a graduate assistant. He acts like he's 35 years old," said Meierkort, whose I-AA program upset Minnesota 41-38 last fall. "I sent him down there to learn about coaching cornerbacks, and he struck gold. I'm very happy for him. I think it's fantastic."
Thomas, the Coyotes' captain and defensive MVP in 2008, spent the last two seasons as a graduate assistant at tiny St. Cloud State, working with running backs, and had taken a job at his alma mater this spring. Meierkort said he had already shown himself to be a strong recruiter, and while he's sorry to lose a young coach, he's excited for Thomas' future.
"I have a lot of respect for Skip and his program, and I've known Mark Snyder since he was at Minnesota," Meierkort said. "He's got an opportunity to be a grad assistant at a great program. He'll do a great job for them."
Thomas replaces Marcus Patton, the former Kansas State safety who spent one season on Holtz's staff before taking a full-time job as defensive backs coach at Indiana State.
Thomas' eligibility is up, so he can't directly help the Bulls on the field, but check out this four-minute highlight reel on Youtube, and you'll see he can probably pass along some good insights on blitzing and being a tough hitter.