North Carolina

UNC hires former player who coached under Bunting, Davis to coach linebackers

UNC quarterback T. J. Yates, right, is congratulated by assistant coach Tommy Thigpen in 2007. UNC announced on Tuesday that it has hired Thigpen as its linebackers coach.
UNC quarterback T. J. Yates, right, is congratulated by assistant coach Tommy Thigpen in 2007. UNC announced on Tuesday that it has hired Thigpen as its linebackers coach. Robert Willett

Former North Carolina linebacker Tommy Thigpen has returned to UNC for his second stint on the coaching staff.

Thigpen, an All-ACC linebacker under Mack Brown, is back in Chapel Hill after coaching stops at Auburn and Tennessee. Thigpen will coach the Tar Heels linebackers.

“We are excited to bring Tommy back to Carolina,” head coach Larry Fedora said. “He will bring intensity into the building, both as a coach and as a recruiter, and I know he has a great passion for this program and this university. We welcome him, his wife Jacinda and their two daughters back into the Tar Heel family.”

Thigpen was a graduate assistant under Carl Torbush and coached linebackers for four seasons under John Bunting and Butch Davis.

“I am very thankful to be coming back home and even more thankful to Coach Fedora for giving me the opportunity to be a part of his staff,” Thigpen said.

Thigpen was a four-year letter winner from 1989-92 and was a three-time All-ACC linebacker, including a first-team selection in 1991. He then played for the New York Giants in 1993-94 and for the Barcelona Dragons in 1995 before getting into coaching as a graduate assistant at UNC in 1998-99. He had stops at Tennessee State and Bowling Green before returning to Chapel Hill in 2003, remaining on staff for four seasons before leaving for Auburn, where he was on the coaching staff when the Tigers won the BCS National Championship in 2010.

Thigpen is considered one of the best recruiters in the nation. In 2013, he was named National Recruiter of the Year by Rivals.com after Tennessee landed the No. 5 recruiting class. He was also named one of the top 25 recruiters in 2007 while coaching at UNC.

Jonas Pope IV: 919-419-6501, @JEPopeIV

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