MSU football hires Thomas Wilcher as director of community, high school relations

MSU football hires Thomas Wilcher as director of community, high school relations

Thomas Wilcher has officially joined the Michigan State football program.

The longtime Detroit Cass Tech coach and former running back at Michigan was named Michigan State’s Director of Community and High School Relations, the university announced on Wednesday.

I’m excited to announce the hiring of Thomas Wilcher as our Director of Community and High School Relations,” Michigan State coach Mel Tucker said in a statement. “I’ve known Coach Wilcher for nearly 20 years. His experience coaching, teaching and mentoring youth throughout his entire career have had a tremendous impact on students in Detroit who have gone on to make a difference in the state and across the country.

“Our program is looking to have an expanded presence in the community and Thomas is the perfect person to maintain and strengthen strategic partnerships for Michigan State football.”

Wilcher will not be an on-field coach with a focus on building and coordinating relationships with key groups in the state of Michigan to enhance the reach and engagement of Spartan football in the community, the school said.

While the hiring will almost certainly help Tucker with in-state recruiting, NCAA rules will limit Michigan State’s ability to recruit players out of Cass Tech. Under rules regarding individuals associated with a prospect, there is a two-year period before a player enrolls and two years after they have enrolled where a school cannot hire anyone associated with that prospect in a non-coaching or strength and conditioning staff position.

The Spartans’ last player signed to a scholarship from Cass Tech is cornerback Kalon Gervin, who was part of the 2018 class, meaning he falls outside of the two-year window. Sebastian Brown, a walk-on freshman who redshirted last season, has been granted a waiver by the NCAA, a Michigan State spokesman said. Michigan State will not be allowed to sign a Cass Tech player to the 2022 class but can in 2023, assuming that player does not enroll early.

Wilcher’s hiring was confirmed to The News nearly two weeks ago, though the official announcement comes as Michigan State gets set to begin preseason camp on Aug. 5.

In 24 seasons at the helm at Cass Tech, Wilcher won three state championships (2011, 2012, 2016) and also coached boys track and field, winning state titles from 1994-96. He was inducted into the Michigan High School Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2018 and was named the Detroit Lions Michigan High School Football Coach of the Year in 2011 and the Michigan High School Coaches Association Coach of the Year in 2017.

Wilcher was a standout athlete at Detroit Central before heading to the University of Michigan, where he was the 55-meter indoor hurdles national champion in 1986 while earning All-American honors three times. He lettered in football in 1985 and 1986 and was selected in the ninth round (No. 226 overall) of the 1987 NFL Draft by the San Diego Chargers.

Wilcher was inducted into the Michigan Track and Field Hall of Fame in 2009 and still holds the school record in the 110-meter hurdles.

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