CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WFXR) — The Virginia football coaching staff has a new face with a local connection.
Former Blacksburg High School head coach Thad Wells is now a quality control assistant at UVA, five years after he was at the helm of a Class 3 state football championship with the Bruins.
“I played at Emory and Henry and after that I got straight into high school coaching. To me, I didn’t think about it,” Wells said. “All I wanted to do is to coach and after having a little success, I started talking to other coaches about the passion to get deeper and deeper into this game and it led me to here.”
Wells’ road to the college ranks included stops at high schools in South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia in the last seven years. Right before heading to Charlottesville, he was the head coach at Richlands.
His position with the Cavaliers might not be a familiar one to mainstream football fans. Quality control assistants are tasked primarily with preparing the team for a game, including analyzing game film and statistical analysis.
For Wells, getting to UVA involved developing a relationship with head coach Bronco Mendenhall.
“We had that success at Blacksburg in 2016. At that point I got to know Coach Mendenhall,” Wells said. “I got to do some things with the AFCA (American Football Coaches Association). I started to build that fire I guess. I had that desire to get up here. I was just getting to know him over the last four years. I know I just wanted to take a chance to come up to the college ranks and it is just amazing.”
Mendenhall saw Wells’ potential shortly after the 2016 state football title.
“He is a passionate and avid learner and reader. He has been in contact ever since and he has chosen to take a leap of faith into college football,” Mendenhall said. “It is a new stage of the program where we are being sought out for those who want to go into college football. But I also think our program to be the design and architect and add value it is great.”
And Wells knows that Mendenhall is responsible for opening the door to a higher level of football.
“Without Coach Mendenhall saying yes, I would not be here,” Wells said. “It takes courage to start off with to come up here and sit in his office four years ago to ask him some questions and to be a pest for a long time and I eventually got him to say, ‘Sure come on. If you are willing to do some hard work for nothing then come.'”
Even though Wells now has his foot in the door in the college ranks, he still has fond memories of his time in Blacksburg.
“My time in Blacksburg was a special time. It was just amazing people. We had a special year. A couple of years we were very special. Off the field the people were very special. I reflect on that,” Wells said.
“I keep up with the coaches and we talk and text the memories are special.”