Turner pushed for former Illini star Thomas

Former Illini star Pierre Thomas has 1,095 all-purpose yards for the Saints this season. Derick E. Hingle/US Presswire

MIAMI -- For a brief moment nearly three years ago, New Orleans Saints running back Pierre Thomas thought he might end up playing for his hometown Chicago Bears after receiving a phone call from his former college coach, Ron Turner.

"[Turner, then the Bears offensive coordinator] definitely did give me call during the 2007 draft," Thomas said Tuesday at Super Bowl media day. "He scared me a little bit because I thought it was the phone call I was waiting for. It was the third round in the draft, and I got [caller ID] saying Turner, I was like please tell me this is the phone call I've been waiting for."

It wasn't.

"He just wanted to wish me best of luck and [that] he's been telling those guys [Bears] about me, trying to pull for me," Thomas said.

Turner's sales job fell short as Thomas ended up signing with the Saints as an undrafted free agent, and is now a major cog in coach Sean Payton's offense -- 1,095 all-purpose yards and eight touchdowns in the 2009 regular season.

"I know Turner did his best to try to get me there, but hey, I'm with a good team right now," Thomas said.