LSU broke the news today that former Director of Player Personnel Austin Thomas would be back in his same position after a three-month stint as an associate athletic director at USC.
Thomas' departure last February was a pretty big deal -- he's been a crucial part of Les Miles' recruiting efforts in recent years as a talent evaluator creating extensive, detailed reports on hundreds of players across multiple classes, on top of coordinating the efforts of the LSU staff while on the road. Arranging travel, hotels, etc... He even did a little bit of road work himself while LSU was down a staff member following Kevin Steele's departure. He even played a pretty large role in securing a 2017 commitment in Murfreesboro, Tenn., athlete JaCoby Stevens, who decommitted shortly after Thomas' departure (Thomas is a Tennessee native).
Per this 104.5/04.9 ESPN Baton Rouge interview, Shea Dixon of Geaux 247 said that Miles never really stopped trying to get Thomas back, working the numbers and finding the right position. Thomas' move to USC included an associate athletic director title, meaning that he'd have a little more security beyond a coaching staff. His job wouldn't be tied to wins and losses. He'll have a similar title here, alongside Sam Nader, who has been with the football staff and athletic department for some 40 years. Thomas will be another big-time feather in the cap of this recruiting staff, joining Dameyune Craig and Jabar Juluke alongside newly minted recruiting coordinator Ed Orgeron, who USC had likewise tried to lure away.
Just a guess, but Thomas may have had some concerns with new USC AD Lynn Swann coming in, and given that he was able to get the same security here, the move makes perfect sense.
Still, between Thomas, Orgeron and Dave Aranda, Les Miles may not be getting any Christmas cards from Clay Helton anytime soon.