NATCHITOCHES — Brad Laird, one of Northwestern State's greatest football players and most successful defensive coordinators, was named the Demons’ new head football coach, athletic director Greg Burke announced Monday.

Laird, 44, will be officially introduced as head coach early next week on campus. Laird's promotion from associate head coach and defensive coordinator, a position he assumed in January, is pending approval of the University of Louisiana Board of Supervisors.

“While (Northwestern State) has hired a great number of coaches and staff from around the country through the years who have had a high level of success, sometimes the best choice is right in your backyard," Burke said. "So with tremendous confidence, I’m announcing that Brad Laird will be the new football coach at Northwestern State University."

“Brad has a passion for (Northwestern State), as a former coach and administrator, and as one of the best players to ever wear a Demon uniform, that cannot be surpassed. He’s ready for this opportunity, he wants this opportunity, and he will make the best of this opportunity.”

Laird is the Demons’ 15th head football coach, succeeding Jay Thomas, whose contract was not renewed following five seasons. The Demons finished 4-7 overall, 4-5 in Southland Conference play, this season, winning three of their last four games, capped by a 38-21 victory Saturday over Stephen F. Austin.

Laird returned to Northwestern State 10 months ago from his high school alma mater, Ruston High School, where he averaged more than seven wins in four playoff seasons as head coach. He was also the Bearcats' athletic director in 2015-16.