Head Coach Brad Laird Introduction

New Northwestern State football coach Brad Laird is introduced Thursday, Nov. 30, 2017, in Natchitoches.

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NATCHITOCHES — New Northwestern State football coach Brad Laird installed 5 a.m. meetings in his first week as the Demons’ leader, holding the meeting only if every player showed up before the allotted time.

Laird was finally able to hold his first team meeting Thursday after four days of trying, but rising senior offensive lineman Chris Zirkle said the former Demons defensive coordinator knew how to energize a room full of college student-athletes even at the early hour.

“It’s crazy what this man can do to get you pumped even at 5 a.m.,” said Zirkle, who spoke as the players’ representative to a packed house at the Friedman Student Union Ballroom to introduce Laird. “We’ve been there at 5 a.m. for four straight days, and we’re dragging, but his tone of voice, the way he walks around — you just think, ‘We’re ready.’

“His passion is undeniable, and it’s spreading around the room. My first impression of (Laird) is that he’s a keeper.”

Laird replaced Jay Thomas, a Baker native who went 21-36 from 2012-2017 and wasn't retained.

Laird, 44, played quarterback at Northwestern State from 1991-95. He was a graduate assistant for the Demons in 1996 and coached at West Monroe, Ouachita before becoming the Northwestern State's defensive coordinator from 2003-05. He coached linebackers at Stephen F. Austin in 2007 and returned as Northwestern State's defensive coordinator in 2008-11. He coached at Ruston from 2013-16 before returning to Natchitoches earlier this year.