Tommy Thigpen (born March 17, 1971) is an American college football coach and former player. He is currently the co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach at University of North Carolina, a position he assumed in January 2018. Prior to that, he spent 14 years as an assistant coach in the collegiate ranks, including a stint at Auburn University where he was part of the 2010 National Championship team. Thigpen played as a linebacker at the University of North Carolina and thereafter was drafted by the New York Giants of the National Football League (NFL). He also played for the Barcelona Dragons of the World League of American Football (WLAF).
|Title||Co-defensive coordinator, linebackers coach|
|Born||March 17, 1971|
El Dorado, Arkansas
|1993||New York Giants|
|Coaching career (HC unless noted)|
|1998–1999||North Carolina (GA)|
|2000||Tennessee State (LB)|
|2001||Bowling Green (CB)|
|2002||Bowling Green (STC/CB)|
|2005–2008||North Carolina (LB)|
|2018||North Carolina (LB)|
|2019–present||North Carolina (CO-DC/LB)|
Thigpen was born and raised in El Dorado, Arkansas. He played prep school football at Potomac High School in Dumfries, Virginia, where he was honored as a Parade All-American and Virginia Defensive Player of the Year. Thigpen was recruited to play college football at the University of North Carolina for head coach Mack Brown. Thigpen was a three-time All-ACC linebacker for the Tar Heels. He was co-captain of the 1992 team that went 9–3 and were Peach Bowl champions. Upon graduation, Thigpen played professionally for the New York Giants and Barcelona Dragons.
Thigpen began his coaching career as a UNC graduate assistant in 1998–1999 under Carl Torbush. He received his first full-time position the following season coaching linebackers at Tennessee State. In 2001–2002, he was hired by new head coach Urban Meyer as the cornerbacks coach and special team's coordinator at Bowling Green where he helped coach one of the Mid-American Conference's top defenses, leading the MAC in turnover margin in 2002. BGSU also finished second in the MAC in pass efficiency defense, while Thigpen's special teams also were impressive, blocking seven punts and one field goal.
When Meyer went to Utah in 2003, Thigpen was hired by Ron Turner as the cornerbacks coach at the University of Illinois. He spent the following season as the linebackers coach for the Fighting Illini and was one of two assistants to keep their job when Turner was fired. Although new coach Ron Zook asked him to stay on the staff, Thigpen decided to take the same position at his alma-mater, North Carolina, for the 2005 season. In each of his four seasons at Chapel Hill he tutored UNC's leading tacklers, including Durell Mapp who came to Carolina as a walk-on and finished with the second most tackles in the ACC and now plays with the Green Bay Packers. Thigpen was selected by the Atlantic Coast Conference to attend the 2008 Minority Coaches Forum.
On February 15, 2009, Gene Chizik announced Thigpen had been hired as the safeties coach at Auburn University. He will split responsibilities coaching the Tigers secondary with Phillip Lolley who was promoted to cornerbacks coach. After three season coaching the safeties, Thigpen took over as linebackers coach for the 2012 season.
After Chizik was fired by Auburn following the 2012 season and Thigpen was not retained by new coach Gus Malzahn (who had previously worked alongside Thigpen under Chizik), he was hired to coach linebackers at the University of Tennessee for new head coach Butch Jones.
Thigpen was a coach for Auburn when they won the 2011 BCS National Championship Game.
Thigpen was named one of the nation's top 25 recruiters in 2007 and 2009 by Rivals.com and in 2011 by 247Sports.com, ESPN and Rivals.com. He was awarded the 2011 Scout.com/FOXSports.com SEC Conference Recruiter of the Year. In 2014, he was named Rivals.com National Recruiter of the Year for his work on the University of Tennessee class of 2014.
Thigpen graduated with a bachelor's degree in political science from the University of North Carolina in 1993. He is married to the former Jacinda Webb and the couple has two daughters.
- "2008 North Carolina coaching staff" (PDF). UNC. 2008. Retrieved February 19, 2009.
- "2002 Bowling Green Ranking Summary". NCAA. 2003. Retrieved January 6, 2003.
- Thamel, Pete (November 23, 2004). "Illinois Fires Turner". New York Times. Retrieved November 23, 2004.
- "Mapp signs with Packers". Times-News. 2008. Archived from the original on May 2, 2008. Retrieved April 29, 2008.
- "Chizik finalizes first coaching staff by hiring Thigpen, promoting Lolley". Press-Register. 2009. Retrieved February 15, 2009.
- "Rivals.com Top 25 recruiters". Rivals.com. 2007. Retrieved October 15, 2009.
- "Class of 2009: Top 25 recruiters". Rivals.com. 2009. Retrieved October 15, 2009.
- "247Sports honors the nations top recruiters". 247Sports.com. 2011. Retrieved February 6, 2011.
- "Top football recruiters of the year". ESPN. 2011. Retrieved February 13, 2011.
- "Southeast dominates list of top recruiters". Rivals.com. 2011. Retrieved February 8, 2011.
- "Scout/FoxSports Recruiter of the Year". Scout.com. 2011. Retrieved February 9, 2011.