RENO, Nev. – Jay Norvell announced today the hiring of Thomas Sheffield as the special teams coordinator for the Nevada football team.
Sheffield comes to Nevada from Arkansas-Pine Bluff, where had a successful three-year run as the Golden Lions’ special teams, coordinator and tight ends coach. He also served as the recruiting coordinator for the Golden Lions. Sheffield previously worked with Nevada’s former special teams coach Tommy Perry at North Texas.
“Thomas is incredibly passionate about special teams,” Norvell said. “He assisted Tommy Perry in the past and is extremely knowledgeable about our package. He’s also great working individually with punters, kickers and long-snappers. We’re excited to have him on board.”
While at Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Sheffield guided a special teams unit that posted impressive results for the FCS program. In his first season, the Lions finished third nationally in net punting and eight in punt return defense, leading the Southwestern Athletic Conference and breaking school records in both categories.
He coached Jamie Gillan to first-team All-SWAC honors as both a kicker and punter during the 2018 season as GIllan was 13th nationally in net punting (37.5 yards per punt) and 16th in touchbacks. Last season, Sheffield’s coverage teams were fourth in the SWAC in both kick coverage and punt coverage.
Gillan, known as the Scottish Hammer, is now the punter for the Cleveland Browns and averaged 46.2 yards per punt in his rookie season in 2019.
“My family and I are excited for the opportunity that Coach Norvell has given us,” Sheffield said. “A lot of hard work and sacrifice has led us to this position and we are excited to be a part of the Wolf Pack family.”
At Nevada, Sheffield will coordinate all facets of the Wolf Pack special teams. Nevada loses three-year punter Quinton Conaway to graduation but returns Brandon Talton, who had two game-winners – including a 56-yard to beat Purdue – and was a Midseason All-American for the Wolf Pack in 2019.
Prior to UAPB, Sheffield served as the special teams/offensive graduate assistant for the University of North Texas. In 2015, under Sheffield, punter Eric Keena finished the season with the 21st highest punting average in Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) and second highest in Conference USA. The following year Keena followed up that success ranked 23rd nationally and 2nd in Conference USA.
Prior to North Texas, Sheffield worked at the University of Mary Hardin Baylor where he served as tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator. In his three seasons at D-III UMHB, the Crusaders posted a 38-3 record with three American Southwest Conference (ASC) championships and appearances in the NCAA Division III semifinals in 2012 and 2013. In 2014, Coach Sheffield coached American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) First-Team All-American tight end Eric Nelson.
Coach Sheffield started his career as a quality control assistant for Willie Fritz at Sam Houston State University in 2011-2012. While at his alma mater, the Bearkats won the Southland Conference and made an appearance in the Division 1 FCS National Championship against North Dakota State. The Bearkats finished the season 14-1.
Sheffield graduated from Sam Houston State University with a Bachelor's Degree in Kinesiology.
Sheffield and his wife, Emily, have two children; son Peyton (Bear) and daughter Blair.