Joel Thomas is in his third season as running backs coach. He was hired Feb. 10, 2006. He also oversees the Boilermakers' walkon program and summer camps.
During the 2006 and 2007 seasons, Kory Sheets and Jaycen Taylor provided a steady 1-2 punch, averaging 116.2 rushing yards per game and scoring 35 total touchdowns.
Thomas took part in the NFL minority coaching internship program with the Pittsburgh Steelers during the summer of 2008.
Thomas previously was a member of the Purdue staff in 2000 and 2001 as a graduate assistant, working with the offensive line and tight ends.
Thomas returned to the Boilermakers after two years at Idaho as co-offensive coordinator and running backs coach. In 2002 and 2003, Thomas was running backs coach at Louisville. The Cardinals ranked 10th nationally in rushing offense - averaging 228.2 yards per game - during the 2003 season. Thomas had an additional stint at Idaho as running backs coach in the spring of 2002.
Thomas was a running back at Idaho from 1995 to 1998. He is the Vandals' career leader with 765 rushing attempts, 3,929 rushing yards and 51 rushing touchdowns. As a senior, Thomas was named the Big West Conference Player of the Year by the Football News. He received the Humanitarian Award prior to the 1998 Humanitarian Bowl, which Idaho won in come-from-behind fashion over Southern Mississippi 42-35.
A native of Port Angeles, Wash., Thomas (born Nov. 7, 1974) earned a bachelor's degree in public communications from Idaho in 1998. He is married to the former Ebbie Metzinger, who was a pole vaulter at Purdue and was the Big Ten outdoor champion in 2000 and 2002 and indoor champion in 2002.