Thomas served under Paterno as head strength and conditioning coach for 20 seasons but wasn't retained when a new staff was brought aboard, but he said Tuesday he has landed comfortably at Georgia.
The 49-year old called it a "breath of fresh air," to be working at Georgia after the way things ended at Penn State.
Thomas was hired before spring practice as the senior associate director of strength and conditioning under director Joe Tereshinski.
"I feel like I pulled off the greatest coup ever to bring this man in here who has agreed to work with me," Tereshinski said.
Thomas joined speed coach Sherman Armstrong as new hires on a revamped staff.
Before they met with reporters Tuesday, Thomas said quietly to Tereshinski: "You know I never had to do this before."
He said Bulldogs coach Mark Richt and Paterno share "a lot of qualities and characteristics that are very much the same."
Paterno's legacy was tarnished by the way his career ended, but Thomas chose to look at him in a different light.
"You've got great men that care about the programs they work for and care about the kids they're coaching and teaching and care about the universities they're working for," Thomas said. "There are a lot of characteristics with coach Richt and coach Paterno that are very similar. That was very refreshing for me."
Deas returns to Bulldogs
Reserve safety Marc Deas was back on the Georgia practice field Tuesday.
Deas decided March 30 that he would transfer, but chose to return and was allowed back on the team.
"I feel like I was selfish at the beginning and didn't really know what I had until I stepped away from the program," said Deas, who talked to some other schools about a possible transfer. "I feel like it's a blessing just to be accepted back not just by coach Richt and Georgia but for my teammates and everybody else."
The redshirt sophomore had three tackles last season, but said he realized "there's a big opportunity here," for playing time.
Deas rejoins a secondary that has three starters facing suspension for violating team rules. Safety Bacarri Rambo is facing a four-game suspension, cornerback/safety Sanders Commings is suspended two games and cornerback Braden Smith is expected to be suspended for at least a game.
Houston making waves at right tackle
Kolton Houston will work with Georgia's starting offensive line Saturday on G-Day.
No surprise there because he's been with the first group all spring, but the new wrinkle is he's now at right tackle instead of left guard.
Offensive coordinator Mike Bobo called Houston's spring "outstanding."
"We started working him there probably a week or two ago," offensive line coach Will Friend said. "He's really progressed at that spot the last couple of days. He's done a good job. He had a really good scrimmage Saturday and had another good day today."
"I love having Kolton playing next to me," guard Chris Burnette said. "I feel like he plays with great effort, a very athletic guy. I feel like us playing together is going to be great if that's the way it shapes up in the end."
Houston is expected to be eligible to play this fall after having to sit out last season with an undisclosed NCAA issue.
Mitchell could miss G-Day
Another frontline player is dealing with an injury that could keep him out of the G-Day game.
Already safety Shawn Williams is out Saturday with a knee injury.
Tailback Keith Marshall (hamstring) is unlikely to play, Bobo said.
Fullback Richard Samuel (concussion) also may not go.
"There will be a number of crossovers that will have to play both sides just because of depth issues," Bobo said.
There will be a different format this year in selecting the teams.
"The players didn't pick this year, we picked," Bobo said. "I think we're still going against the one defense, I'm not really sure."
This and that
Safety Bacarri Rambo (hamstring) returned to practice Tuesday. …Tereshinski said the position that will open on his staff after assistant Rex Bradberry leaves is likely to be filled by a graduate assistant. …Receiver Rantavious Wooten (pulled leg muscle) "did as much as he could do," in practice Tuesday "without further injuring it," Ball said. "We'll see how he progresses."