Thomas Sheffield Brings Ride or Die Mentality to Nevada Special Teams
When Thomas Sheffield started his coaching career, he used the same mottos he heard from other coaches.
“I tried to steal other people’s things,” Sheffield admitted. “I tried saying ‘selfless, tough and disciplined’ or this and that. I tried to be other people, and it wasn’t working.”
Thus, Sheffield returned to its roots. And his roots are “Ride or Die”, a mentality he has had since his childhood and now the mentality that is permanently etched on his chest after Sheffield got a tattoo of a skull wearing an eye patch and flames coming out of it. his head next to his life bike before revealing it to the team ahead of this year’s season opener at Cal.
“It took five and a half hours,” Sheffield said. “One of the most painful things I have ever done.”
But it wasn’t a gimmick like “selfless, tough and disciplined” was for Sheffield, an avid coach who helped lead Nevada’s special teams to the top of the nation in his second season only with the Wolf Pack. The passion is also shown in the name of his most recent child, with this son being referred to as Cannon Wolf Sheffield after the Fremont Cannon.
“I am passionate about what I do,” Sheffield said. “Maybe I do crazy things too, and I don’t do the normal things that other people would do. But look where it takes us, and I think the kids see it. They see it in me, and they know. that they can buy into this guy because this guy is real and they can buy into what I’m saying because what is coming out of my mouth is the truth. here, but we still have to finish. We have a long way to go . Our ultimate goal is to win a conference championship and play for this label. “
ESPN’s latest Football Power Index ranks Nevada special teams 7th nationally. SP + ranks the Wolf Pack Special Teams 82nd nationally. It shows how difficult it is to measure this third of the game. But it’s hard to deny that Nevada’s special teams have been a plus this season. In last week’s game against Hawaii, the Wolf Pack blocked a punt and recovered a stifled punt, back-to-back first-half punches that saw them separate from the Rainbow Warriors.
Kicker Brandon Talton, a two-time All-Mountain West pick, has 12 of his 16 field goals and 24 extra points. Bettor Julian Diaz is averaging 43.4 yards per punt, although Nevada is 118th out of 130 FBS teams on punt (35.7). The Wolf Pack kicking return game showed more power, averaging 23.5 yards per return, 35th nationally. The team is 22nd in yards on return from a punt (13.1).
As Nevada faces Fresno State on Saturday, the Wolf Pack special teams have made a difference in a positive way.
“It’s really exciting because from a coaching standpoint it takes time to build a culture,” said Sheffield. “I’m lucky. I’ve only been here a few years, but coach (Jay) Norvell has been preaching special teams to our football team for a very long time. We really have a lot of membership, and it’s starting to grow. see each other on the pitch. It’s not where I completely want it, but we are moving in the right direction, and that’s what I challenge them every week, is to make sure we take steps forward and not steps because usually you have these really good games like we had and the next one you feel comfortable and you feel like it’s going in the right direction and you lose sight of them. details and you lose sight of the things that got you to where we are. “
Close end Cole Turner, who also caught 12 passes for 175 yards, recorded the blocked punt against Hawaii last Saturday, two school records in one game for a tight end. Norvell believes in using his star players on special teams, even if that comes with the risk of additional injury. Sheffield said it was rare for offensive or defensive stars to play on special teams, but Norvell told him during the interview two years ago that Nevada’s full roster would be at his disposal.
Norvell also believes the special teams experience will help his players reach and stay in the NFL.
“If you want to take college to the next level, you have to be a good special teams player, so we’re just trying to use our best players,” said Norvell. “We think it’s snaps in the game if we can find an advantage and make plays that help our position on the court, that can make the difference in the game.”
After stops at Sam Houston State, Mary-Hardin Baylor, North Texas and Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Nevada is Sheffield’s first full-time assistant job at the FBS level. His passion for football shines through, proof of this with the “Ride or Die” tattoo. Sheffield got the idea while taking a shower during spring camp in March. He didn’t pull the trigger until a few months later and decided to make a big reveal on the morning of Nevada’s opening season, because one of his jobs is to build excitement for the Wolf. Pack on match day.
Sheffield got a tattoo the week before Cal’s game, not having enough time to do it in two sessions. It lasted almost 6 hours, with Sheffield not leaving the lounge until 2:30 a.m. He did so with the support of his wife.
“She just stood there and was like, ‘What did you just do?” Sheffield said. “But she was all about it. Revealing to my mom was the hardest part. She couldn’t believe it. She was pretty upset. But you know, that’s what it is. And, again. once I’m going to be who I’m going to be, and I’ll never hide that fact. “
Talton added a smaller “Ride or Die” tattoo, and while Sheffield brought up the subject of Norvell getting a tattoo, it didn’t go very far.
“Brandon has one that a lot of other players are talking about,” Sheffield said. “I don’t want to be responsible for their parents getting mad at me because they put ‘Ride or Die’ on their body. But I asked Coach Norvell to do it. He said:” I’m not going to get a tattoo, ‘but we met in the middle. He wears this blue work shirt to train every day. He said he would have a “Ride or Die” patch on his shirt, so I thought that was cool. “
You can watch Thomas Sheffield’s full interview on NSN Daily below.