Thomas University establishes college football program for military vets

Posted at 6:01 PM, Jan 25, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-25 23:41:52-05

THOMASVILLE, Ga. (WTXL) — A new college football program is coming to the region.

According to a news release provided by Thomas University on Tuesday, its new football program will be the nation’s first designed specifically to assist veterans in their transition from the military to civilian life.

The team will serve veterans and those currently serving in the Reserves and National Guard.

The service members will be students on Thomas University’s campus in Thomasville and working towards an undergraduate degree.

The team mascot will be the Night Hawks. The team is scheduled to take the field in fall 2023.

“We see it as a win-win situation for everybody,” said Stephen Ferguson, TU’s Vice President for Military and Corporate Relations in a statement. “We know that service members learn how to operate as a team. We’re going to use that training and apply it to football as a team sport. This is more than just football. This is about preparing veterans for the next phase in their lives and using football as the vehicle to do that. Meanwhile, these veterans will set an example for our other students about the importance of dedication and team work.”

Orlando Mitjans, Jr. was announced as the football program's first head coach on Tuesday.

“We are thrilled to have Orlando Mitjans, Jr. as our inaugural head coach for this exciting program.” Thomas University athletic director Rick Pearce, TU’s Athletic Director said in a statement. “Mitjans brings over 20 years of coaching experience, including positions at The Citadel and West Point. Additionally, he completed NFL internships with the Kansas City Chiefs, St. Louis Rams and New York Jets.”

Mitjans is ready for the opportunity to build a football program from the ground up.

“I am truly honored and very excited to be chosen as the head coach for this unique program focused on serving our military community,” Mitjans said in a statement.

Thomas University is a member of the NAIA's Division I.