Multiple sources have confirmed to Deltaplex Radio and DeltaplexNews.com that Cedric Thomas has resigned his position as UAPB head football coach. Sources have indicated Thomas has accepted a position to coach defensive backs at Southern Miss in Conference USA.
Thomas led UAPB to their first winning season since 2012 this past season with a 6-5 record (3-4 SWAC). The Golden Lions tripled their win total from 2018, improving from two wins to six under Thomas.
In his first season, UAPB produced seven players who earned All-Southwestern Athletic Conference honors, including four first-team selections. RB Taeyler Porter led the conference with 1,220 yards. SWAC Freshman of the Year in WR DeJuan Miller tied for the conference lead in receptions (56), was third in receiving yards (801), and was tied for second in receiving touchdowns (six). K/P Jamie Gillan earned first team honors at both positions, was second in the conference in punting average (42.5), and led the SWAC with 20 field goals made. DL Jalen Steward was second on the team in tackles and first in sacks with seven.
UAPB went 2-9 in Thomas’ first season at the helm, with the Lions losing four games by a touchdown or less, including a pair of overtime defeats.
Thomas took over as head coach at UAPB after spending six seasons at Alcorn State, initially coaching defensive backs (2012-15), before spending the last two seasons as defensive coordinator (2016-17). The Braves won four straight SWAC Eastern Division titles, including back-to-back SWAC titles in 2014 and 2015 and played in the inaugural Celebration Bowl.
The former Golden Lion cornerback began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Alcorn (2001) before becoming running backs coach at Tennessee-Martin for one season (2002).
Thomas had two stints at Mississippi Delta Community College as defensive coordinator (2003-04; 2007-11), sandwiched around coaching defensive backs at Itawamba Community College (2005-06).
After beginning his collegiate playing career at Mississippi Delta Community College, Thomas was a two-year letterman and started his senior for the Golden Lions. He graduated from UAPB in 2001 with a bachelor’s degree in recreation and earned his Master’s degree in administration from Alcorn in 2015
UAPB has now released a statement regarding Thomas’s resignation:
PINE BLUFF, Ark. – After two seasons as head coach, Cedric Thomas has left the University of Arkansas At Pine Bluff football program.
“Cedric Thomas did a fantastic job of bringing the UAPB football program back to notoriety and he will be missed,” said Vice Chancellor/Director of Athletics Chris Peterson. “We hate to lose him, but I understand the profession. He has an opportunity to move closer to his career goals and we are excited for him and his family. We thank him for everything he has done for the Golden Lion family and wish he and his family all the best.”
Thomas’ tripled the win total of Golden Lion football from two wins in his first season to six in 2019. UAPB posted signature wins over Alabama A&M and Tennessee State and positioned the program as a SWAC contender. He had 14 all-SWAC players during his tenure, highlighted by WR DeJuan Miller being named SWAC Freshman of the Year in 2018, and RB Taeyler Porter becoming only the third player in program history to post back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons. Both Miller and Porter along with return specialist Tyrin Ralph were named to All-America teams.
Always a strong proponent of academics, more than 50 UAPB football players attained at least a 3.0 grade point average during the Fall 2019 semester.
“This was a very difficult decision for me and my family because of the deep love I have for my alma mater,” Thomas said. “When enrolling here as a student-athlete in the Fall of 1998, I could not have envisioned the impact this university would have on my life. I’ve said it many times and I will continue to express it – UAPB saved my life when I came to Pine Bluff because of what many individuals on this campus and in this community poured into me as a young man. I was extremely blessed to have the opportunity to come back and give back as head coach of this proud program and will be eternally grateful for the support of Golden Lion Nation.”
Assistant head coach Doc Gamble has been named Interim Head Coach and will lead the program at this time.
“My desire is to keep the coaching staff intact,” Peterson said. “We have a solid foundation of success to build upon and my goal is to maintain the continuity of the program as we move forward.”