Cass Tech football coach Thomas Wilcher to take analyst job at Michigan State

David Goricki
The Detroit News

Detroit — Thomas Wilcher has stepped down as head football coach at Detroit Cass Tech to take a job within the Michigan State football program, according to a source close to the situation.

The source with direct knowledge of the situation requested anonymity because the move hasn't been announced.

Thomas Wilcher

Wilcher becomes the second prominent high school head football coach in the metro area to move to the college ranks. He joins Ron Bellamy who took a job at Michigan after leading West Bloomfield to the Division 1 state championship this past January.

Wilcher, a former Michigan running back in the mid-1980s, said in 2013 that he had interest in coaching college football.

“I have thought about it, yes, I would be interested in coaching college," Wilcher said then. I’ve been a head coach here at Cass Tech for 16 years and love what I do, but there are times where I think that I need a different challenge."

When Wilcher talked about the possibility of coaching in college, he was asked about Eastern Michigan, which was in the midst of its 18th consecutive non-winning season at the time. Ron English was fired after an 11-46 record in five seasons.

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Wilcher was in his best period at Cass Tech, coming off consecutive Division 1 state championships in 2011 and 2012 and trying for a third straight, which came up just short, losing to Detroit Catholic Central in the state semifinals.

Wilcher is 190-70 in 23 years at Cass Tech. He won a third state championship in 2016 after losing to Romeo in the 2015 state title game.

Cass Tech had five former players competing in the NFL last fall, including Jourdan Lewis (Cowboys), Lano Hill (Seahawks), Donovan Peoples-Jones (Browns), Del’Shawn Phillips (Bills) and Mike Onwenu (Patriots). Former standout running back Mike Weber earned a Super Bowl ring after being a part of the Chiefs organization two years ago.

Wilcher is slated to be hired by MSU second-year head coach Mel Tucker for an analyst job, a source confirmed. Wilcher's daughter Kiersten attended MSU and multiple former Cass Tech players have played for the Spartans, including offensive lineman Jordan Reid and cornerback Kalon Gervin.

Veteran high school coach Tony Blankenship could be a candidate to replace Wilcher at Cass Tech. Blankenship said a year ago he didn’t plan on coaching again in the PSL. He had coached at Detroit Murray Wright, where he attended as a student, and at Detroit Denby, guiding it to a PSL Division 2 title in 2018 before stepping down to take an administration job in the Southfield Public School district.

“I am applying for the Cass Tech job," Blankenship told The News. "I heard Coach Wilcher is taking the analyst job at Michigan State. “It’s a traditional state power high school football program, one of the best in the country. Tom’s done an amazing job. They put out some great players, Division 1 guys consistently and they do a nice job of advancing in the state playoffs every year. It’s been that way for a while now.”

Cass Tech has qualified for the state playoffs the last 13 years, earning a 39-10 postseason record during that stretch and winning at least one game each season.

Cass Tech is loaded with talent again this year, including three-star defensive tackle Deone Walker, who has offers from Georgia, LSU, Florida, Texas, Michigan and MSU. Three-star offensive lineman Jackson Pruitt, with offers from Penn State, Tennessee, West Virginia and Indiana also returns, as does three-star receiver Jameel Gardner and junior quarterback Leeshaun Mumpfield.

Cass Tech was 9-1 this past season, winning the PSL title and advancing to the regional finals, a loss to Belleville.