On Wednesday, St. Michael senior Eric Thibodeaux signed his college letter of intent to play football for Henderson State University in Arkansas.
Thibodeaux’s interest in football began at an early age when his father, a former member of the Tiger Marching Band, began taking him to LSU games as a toddler. “Going to LSU football games are my first memories of the sport,” says Thibodeaux. “I loved watching it, even at a young age, and always knew I wanted to play.”
Thibodeaux first stepped onto the field in 3rd grade at St. Jean Vianney, where he played through 8th grade. When he arrived at St. Michael his freshman year, he took to the position of linebacker with ease, dabbling in the position of fullback as well. Throughout his high school career, Thibodeaux grew tremendously as an athlete, crediting his SMHS coaches for not only his success on the field, but also in helping him find a good fit collegiately.
“Coach Leindecker showed me how to be a leader on the team and taught me about the recruiting process so that I could play in college. Without him I would not have known much about recruiting and would probably not be signing to play collegiate football,” Thibodeaux shares. “He has always been a fantastic mentor and has shared invaluable advice from how to improve my defensive game to recruitment tips.” Thibodeaux also speaks highly of SMHS Head Coach, Joey Sanchez, sharing that the growth they experienced together as player and coach built their relationship. “Coach Sanchez has always been good to me. He was in the assistant coaching position when I started playing at St. Michael, and then when he became Head Coach, I felt like I really began growing as an athlete. I can always seek advice from him too.”
Thibodeaux is a two-time All-District First Team player, as well as the recipient of multiple player-of-the-game honors. This year, he received the Warrior Tradition Award from St. Michael coaches, recognizing him as the most outstanding football player of the 2020 season.
Defensive Coordinator, Calob Leindecker, admits that Henderson State signed not only a star football player, but also a great leader as well. “Eric’s dedication and work ethic have made him a successful student athlete on an off the field,” he says. “I taught him about college recruiting because I knew he could play at the next level. He made a fantastic highlight tape and has top notch grades, both of which appeal to college coaches.”
Sanchez agrees with Leindecker stating that Henderson State made a smart choice in picking up Thibodeaux. “Eric’s leadership on and off the field is exceptional. He is the perfect example of what we expect out of our student athletes. He is a leader on the field, in the classroom, and in the community,” he shares.
Thibodeaux is also a member of the St. Michael powerlifting team and maintains above a 3.5 GPA, all while taking dual enrollment and honors courses. He says he is most looking forward to the camaraderie with new teammates at Henderson State next year and plans to major in psychology with hopes of eventually becoming a sports psychologist.