Well, this is certainly an interesting potential development.
In late December, Illinois announced that Jeff Thomas had signed a financial aid agreement and would enroll at the university spring 2019 semester. That move came a month or so after the talented wide receiver was dismissed by then-Miami head coach Mark Richt for unspecified reasons.
Richt, however, abruptly retired on Dec. 30, replaced by former UM defensive coordinator Manny Diaz, who had taken over as the head coach at Temple a couple of weeks earlier. The combination of Richt’s retirement and Diaz’s return has apparently cracked the door on a future for Thomas with the Hurricanes as Susan Degnan of the Miami Herald is reporting that there is a possibility that the receiver will return.
Thomas “has conveyed interest to the University of Miami in returning to the school,” Degnan writes; separately, she added that “[o]ne player on last year’s team said he was left with the impression that Thomas will return to the team.” Another said the idea of a return appeals to Thomas.
That said, it’s unclear what exactly are the feelings of Diaz, who will make the final decision on any Thomas return.
While Thomas signed with the Illini, if he didn’t attend classes at the university he would be eligible to play for the Hurricanes in 2019 if he comes back. At this point, it’s unclear if Thomas ever enrolled in classes at the university.
According to the Herald, there are no legal or other issues that would preclude a return.
At the time of his departure/dismissal in November, Thomas was leading the Hurricanes in receptions (35) and receiving yards (563). The sophomore’s 16.1 yards per reception were second on the team while his three touchdown receptions were tied for third.