KNOXVILLE — It took a total team effort by Tennessee's football coaching staff to secure one of the nation's highest-rated recruiting classes, but Tommy Thigpen still did enough to stand out.
The Volunteers linebackers coach was named the national recruiter of the year by Rivals.com on Monday for his part in helping Tennessee finish fifth in the recruiting service's class rankings.
"It means a ton to me and I'm deeply appreciative," Thigpen told Rivals. "Tennessee is a great institution and we were able to recruit some high-character young men who never wavered on their commitment. [Head coach] Butch Jones has been fantastic for the university and the program. Tennessee will thrive under his direction and leadership."
The Vols' 2014 signing class thrived thanks in great part to Thigpen.
The former North Carolina, Illinois and Auburn assistant was instrumental in Middle Tennessee, from which the Vols signed eight players, and helped secure a crop of linebackers that included four players rated as four-star recruits by at least one recruiting service.
In the first year of a two-year contract, Thigpen made $345,000, which made him the fifth-highest paid assistant on Jones' staff. Offensive and defensive coordinators Mike Bajakian and John Jancek made $475,000 each, defensive line coach and assistant head coach Steve Stripling earned $380,000, and offensive line coach Don Mahoney got $350,000.
After a strong year on the recruiting trail, though, Thigpen, whose named was linked to assistant openings at Ohio State and Georgia, could be in line for a raise and/or extension.
Contact Patrick Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Patrick Brown has been the University of Tennessee beat writer since January 2011. A native of Memphis, Brown graduated from UT in May of 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism/Electronic Media and worked at the Knoxville News Sentinel for two years on the sports editorial staff and as a freelance contributor. If it’s the NBA, the NFL or SEC football and basketball, he’s probably reading about it or watching it on TV. Contact him ...