Arkansas running backs coach Joel Thomas is joining the New Orleans Saints, according to sources.
This past season was Thomas’s second with the Razorbacks, which were 24th in the FBS in rushing (218 yards per game) under coach Bret Bielema’s run-heavy offense. Thomas did an internship with the Saints in 2012.
Before arriving in Fayetteville, Thomas was running backs coach at Washington for four seasons and added associated head coach for offensive responsibilities in his final year. He coached running backs at Purdue from 2006-08 and before that was co-offensive coordinator and running backs coach at his alma mater, Idaho, for two years.
The 40-year-old Thomas coached running backs at Louisville from 2002-03 and was a graduate assistant at Purdue for the previous two years. The Saints had a 7-9 record this past season, missing the playoffs for just the second time in six years.
Bielema made huge strides in continuing to rebuild Arkansas this past season with his team’s 7-6 record, which included a win against Texas in the Texas Bowl. Arkansas signed Bielema to a two-year extension through 2020 on Saturday.