Eve Craig/SunDevilSource

Offensive line coach Chris Thomsen departs ASU for TCU

Arizona State offensive line coach Chris Thomsen is leaving the Sun Devils' program to join the coaching staff at Texas Christian.

Just as the dust appeared to settle from the latest merry-go-round of staff changes, Arizona State's assistant coaching carousel began spinning again on Saturday.

According to a source, ASU offensive line coach Chris Thomsen has accepted a job at Texas Christian under Horned Frogs' head coach Gary Patterson, departing the Sun Devils' program after four seasons. While Thomsen's specific role is still undefined, TCU lost one of its co-offensive coordinators to Kansas in recent days.

Thomsen becomes the second ASU offensive assistant coach to leave the program this week, as tight ends coach Del Alexander accepted a position coaching wide receivers at Notre Dame on Wednesday. 

After losing five assistant coaches following the 2015 season, head coach Todd Graham will have at least three new coaches on staff in 2017 as wide receivers' coach Jay Norvell also departed ASU to accept the head coaching job at Nevada in December.

In the past two offseasons, Graham has now had to replace his offensive coordinator, running backs coach, wide receivers coach, offensive line coach, tight ends coach, defensive line coach, special teams coach, outside linebackers coach and defensive backs coach. Linebackers coach Keith Patterson is the only remaining coaches from Graham's 2014 staff. Earlier this week, Patterson was demoted from his role as defensive coordinator as Graham hired former Baylor defensive coordinator Phil Bennett in the same capacity at ASU. 

Earlier this week, SunDevilSource reported that Thomsen had been offered the offensive coordinator position at Memphis under head coach and former ASU offensive coordinator Mike Norvell, but that Thomsen had temporarily elected to stay put at ASU. On Friday, however, Thomsen agreed to pursue the opportunity at Texas Christian, one day after Kansas hired former Horned Frogs' co-offensive coordinator Doug Meacham to become its offensive coordinator.

The Kansas offensive coordinator position became open earlier this offseason when former offensive coordinator Rob Likens left the Jayhawks' program to become the wide receivers coach at ASU.

The decision to take the job at Texas Christian allows Thomsen to return to his alma mater, where he played football for three seasons (1988-1990) and baseball for one season. An All-America selection on the diamond, Thomsen was a 17th round draft choice of the Oakland Athletics and the Horned Frogs' Male Athlete of the Year in 1991. 

During his tenure at ASU, Thomsen helped five offensive linemen earn All-Pac-12 honors, including First Team All-Pac-12 selections Jamil Douglas and Evan Finkenberg, Second Team All-Pac-12 selections Christian Westerman and Nick Kelly and All-Pac-12 Honorable Mention guard Vi Teofilo.

In Thomsen's first season at ASU in 2013, the Sun Devils were one of just two teams in the Pac-12 to start all five linemen in each game they played. That stability would not continue throughout Thomsen's tenure, though, as his final season at ASU was plagued by injuries across the board along his offensive line. Starters Sam JonesStephon McCrayA.J. McCollum and Zach Robertson all missed games in 2016, forcing the Sun Devils to use more than a half dozen combinations along the offensive line. 

ASU entered the 2016 with just one returning starter on its offensive line, left tackle Evan Goodman, and Goodman started all 12 games for the Sun Devils. Entering the 2016 season, the Sun Devils return six players with starting experience including Jones, McCollum, Robertson, junior Quinn Bailey, sophomore Steve Miller and senior Tyler McClure all in the fold for ASU. 

With injuries and inexperience hampering the Sun Devils' offensive line, ASU finished 10th in the Pac-12 in rushing offense with 131.5 yards per game and 11th in yards per carry with an average of 3.3 yards per attempt, as the Sun Devils were one of just two teams in the Pac-12 (UCLA) to end the year averaging fewer than 4.0 yards per carry.

The Sun Devils also finished last in the conference in sacks allowed, surrendering 41 in 2016. 

Thomsen's departure has the potential to impact the recruitments of a pair of high-priority targets, five-star offensive tackle and local prospect Austin Jackson and four-star junior college offensive tackle George Moore. Moore arrived Thursday for his official visit at ASU. 

Prior to coaching offensive linemen at ASU, Thomsen spent one season as the offensive line coach at Texas Tech, where he ultimately became the interim coach after Red Raiders' coach Tommy Tuberville left for head coaching job at Cincinnati. 

Before arriving at the FBS level, Thomsen enjoyed a seven-year stint as head coach at Division II Abilene Christian, where he led the Wildcats to six straight NCAA Division II playoff berths. 


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