Pete Thomas packed his bags and moved across the country for the opportunity to play quarterback at NC State, deciding to leave Colorado State behind after his coach was fired.
The draw at NC State? Tom O'Brien and Dana Bible, two coaches who run a pro-style scheme that best suits what Thomas can do. He knew he had to sit out 2012, but with Mike Glennon playing his final season, Thomas would be able to compete for a shot to start in 2013.
Perfect timing. Until the end of November.
What do they say about the best-laid plans?
O'Brien was fired. Bible did not return. De ja vu hit Thomas, going through his second coaching change in three years. Now all of a sudden the coach he came to play for was gone, and Thomas had to swallow hard and find a way to stay positive.
"Obviously, when I decided to come here, I was hoping to play for Coach O’Brien and committed here to play for Coach O’Brien and their staff," Thomas told ESPN.com in a recent phone interview. "A lot of guys have a lot of respect for them and like them, but it didn’t work out that way. Everybody loves the new staff, and we’re all excited to finally get on the field with them."
Thomas and Manny Stocker, who served as the backup last season, appear to be the early front-runners headed into spring practice. But along with the staff change comes a scheme change. Where Thomas fits perfectly into a pro-style offense, new coach Dave Doeren is more known for his spread offense and mobile quarterbacks.
When asked how he would fit into this particular scheme, Thomas brushed off any concerns.
"Coach (Matt) Canada’s offense and Coach Doeren, they’ve shown they can do multiple things," Thomas said. "At Indiana, they threw the ball a lot, at NIU they had running quarterbacks, at Wisconsin, they had a drop-back passer. They adapt to what their players can do, and they’re going to continue to do that through the spring and the fall."
Thomas was one of the highest rated quarterbacks coming out of high school in California, and decided on Colorado State because he liked then-coach Steve Fairchild and thought he would have the chance to play right away. He did, starting as an 18-year-old true freshman. Though there were ups and downs, Thomas threw for 2,662 yards and broke the school single-season record with a .647 completion percentage.
His sophomore season was tougher. Colorado State went 3-9; Thomas missed the final three games of the season because of an injury. Fairchild was fired at the end of the season. Thomas said that was the overriding factor in his decision to transfer.
Sitting out last season was difficult. But at the same time, he had a chance to take a step back and work on his own game, and learn from Glennon. Because Thomas was thrown right into the lineup as a young player, he had to learn on the job. His mistakes were there for everyone to see. Sitting out made him a little bit wiser.
"I liked playing early," Thomas said. "I got a lot of experience on the field, but you can gain a lot from redshirting and sitting out the year and developing. I also got to grow physically, something I never really got to do playing right away."
It has not been lost on Thomas that Fairchild is now in the ACC, too, as an assistant at Virginia. Years after their lives went in different directions, both will now attempt to start over, thousands of miles away from Colorado.