PORT ANGELES — The University of Washington football program is starting to get quite the Port Angeles connection. At least on offense.
At least three publications reported on Monday, even though there was no official confirmation from the school, that Port Angeles native Joel Thomas has been hired as the new running backs coach.
Thomas is following in the footsteps of new Huskies offensive coordinator Jim Michalczik, who also hails from Port Angeles.
While Michalczik was the assistant head coach and offensive line coach at California, Thomas is coming from Purdue, where he held the same position of running backs coach.
Thomas seems to know that position well. As a running back at Idaho from 1995 to 1998, he was the Vandals’ career leader with 765 rushing attempts, 3,929 yards and 51 rushing touchdowns.
As a senior, he was named the Big West Conference Player of the Year by Football News. Thomas received the Humanitarian Award prior to the 1998 Humanitarian Bowl, which Idaho won in come-from-behind fashion over Southern Mississippi 42-35.
Thomas, a standout running back at Port Angeles High School in the early 1990s, was co-offensive coordinator at Idaho under head coach Nick Holt from 2004 to 2005.
Holt is the defensive coordinator at Washington. He was hired away from the same position at Southern Cal by new Huskies head coach Steve Sarkisian, the former USC offensive coordinator.
Thomas, who has been Purdue’s running backs coach since 2006, was a graduate assistant at Purdue in 2000 and 2001, and the running backs coach at Louisville in 2002-03.
The Port Angeles native also took part in the NFL minority coaching internship program with the Pittsburgh Steelers last summer.