Andy Thompson begins his fourth season as the defensive coordinator and sixth overall as the linebackers coach at Northern Arizona University. He is entering his eighth season overall on the staff after spending his first two seasons across the line of scrimmage directing the running backs.
Thompson, who has coached 19 student-athletes to 26 All-Big Sky honors at NAU, produced his best unit in 2010 with one of the top defensives in the Big Sky. The Lumberjacks led the league in scoring defense (19.8), rushing defense (93.5) and sacks (33), while ranking second overall in total defense (306.6) and pass defense (213.1). The Lumberjacks ranked fifth nationally in rush defense and among the FCS Top 25 in sacks (10th), total defense (14th) and pass defense (22nd).
Linebacker Reid Worthington and defensive lineman Isaac Bond were both was named to the All-Big Sky first team. NAU upset previously ninth-ranked Montana State, which led the Big Sky and ranked second in the FCS in total offense at 516.2 yards per game. The Bobcats were held to just 19 yards in the first half and 123 yards for the game.
In 2011, NAU was third in rushing defense (35th in the FCS) and scoring defense in the conference and ranked fifth overall in the Big Sky in total defense. Bond was named to the All-Big Sky first team for the second consecutive season after recording a team-best 7.5 tackles for loss (third in the Big Sky). Linebacker Scott McKeever closed out his career with his second all-conference honor.
Thompson was promoted to defensive coordinator prior to the 2009 season, replacing longtime coordinator Corey Batoon. The Lumberjacks played hard throughout the season despite dealing with 14 student-athletes missing games during the season due to injury. The Lumberjacks ranked third in the Big Sky and 35th in the nation in rushing defense, holding opponents to less than 100 yards rushing five times. NAU was at its best in conference games, ranking second overall allowing 352.9 yards per game against the Big Sky.
Returning senior Matt Estrada led six defensive players on the All-Big Sky team, including linebackers Stevon Thomas (second), who ranked second on the team in tackles with 75, and Reid Worthington (HM).
Thompson helped tutor a defense that led the FCS and ranked second in Division I overall in rushing defense allowing just 59.8 yards per game in 2008. NAU held four opponents to negative yards rushing and a fifth to just 21 on the game. For the season, NAU allowed 658 yards on 307 carries (2.1 yards per carry) with 99 plays for zero or negative yardage on the season, including 72 for a loss on the season. It reset the NAU and Big Sky Conference records for rushing defense and yards allowed in a season.
Thompson’s linebackers were among the tackle leaders on the squad, producing four of the top 10 tacklers led by Anthony Llanos. Cody Dowd earned All-Big Sky second team honors, while Stevon Thomas was an honorable mention selection.
He helped coach the special teams in 2007-08. The Lumberjacks ranked fourth in the nation in net punting and led the Big Sky Conference in kickoff coverage in 2007.
In his first season on the defensive staff, the linebackers were led by the 55 tackles by Joe Lyman. Sophomore Cody Dowd earned All-Big Sky honorable mention accolades, recording four tackles for loss among 35 tackles.
Thompson led a solid backfield group in 2006 that played a vital role in the offensive success of the squad. The Lumberjacks ranked second in the Big Sky in rushing per game at 137.9 with a league-best 3.9 yards per carry. NAU ranked first in scoring offense (34.4 points per game) and total offense (405.1), listed fifth and sixth respectively on the national charts.
Redshirt freshman Alex Henderson was a standout under Thompson’s tutelage in 2006, earning Big Sky Conference Newcomer of the Year accolades. He was the first Lumberjack to capture the honor since former Payton Award winner Archie Amerson garnered the distinction in 1995.
Henderson, who became the first freshman in school history to rush for 1,000 yards in a season, led the team in rushing with 1,016 rushing yards on 189 carries with five touchdowns. He led the conference in all purpose yards with a 126.3 per game average, the 30th-best total in the nation, and posted four 100-yard rushing games on the season highlighted by his 265-yard, two-touchdown performance at Eastern Washington, ranking as the seventh-best single-game rushing total in school history
Thompson joined the NAU staff in 2005 as a graduate assistant, assisting with the running backs and other program related duties before being promoted to full-time status in 2006.
In his first season, senior Philo Sanchez led the team in rushing with 579 yards and two touchdowns. Classmate Ryan Williams led the team with three rushing touchdowns.
He most recently coached at Eastern Oregon in 2004 for current assistant Travis Baker. He tutored Nick Hannaw, a linebacker who signed as a free agent with the Indianapolis Colts. His special team punt and kickoff return units both ranked among the NAIA Top 10.
A native of Walla Walla, Wash., Thompson played for Montana for four seasons (1999, 2001-03). He helped the Grizzlies to five Big Sky Championships and one national championship (2001) during his five-year career in Missoula. He played in 44 career games with 103 total tackles, including 8.5 tackles for loss.
Thompson, 32, graduated with a degree in health enhancement from Montana in May 2004. He married the former Mikal Mickleson of Missoula, Mont., in the summer of 2008. They have a son, Malcom.
Andy Thompson, Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers
Born: April 30, 1980
College: Montana, 2004.
Playing Experience: Montana, 1999, 2001-03
Family: Married to the former Mikal Mickleson; Son, Mac.
Recruiting Areas: Inland Empire (Calif.), West Valley (Phoenix).
Thompson’s Coaching Chronology
|2004||Eastern Oregon, Linebackers|
|2005-06||Northern Arizona University, Running Backs|
||Northern Arizona University, Linebackers/Special Teams|
||Northern Arizona University, Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers|