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Jeff Thomas reneges on Illinois commitment, returns to Miami

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The saga that is Jeff Thomas has taken a couple of twists over the past couple of days, with the latest apparently leading him back to The U.

In late December, Illinois announced that Thomas had signed a financial aid agreement and would enroll at the university for the 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 and was replaced by former UM defensive coordinator Manny Diaz, who had taken over as the head coach at Temple a couple of weeks earlier before abandoning the Owls.  The combination of Richt’s retirement and Diaz’s return apparently cracked the door on a future for Thomas with the Hurricanes as it was reported this past weekend that there was a possibility the receiver will return; that possibility, though, was seemingly snuffed out by Thomas himself yesterday.

“I’m on my way now,” Thomas told the Champaign News-Gazette Monday afternoon. “I’m really excited to get started at Illinois.”

A day later, Thomas is apparently no longer excited and no longer on his way to Champaign as he posted on Instagram that he is instead headed back to Miami.  Well, at least for now he is.

It doesn’t appear that Thomas ever actually enrolled in and attended classes at Illinois, which means he would be eligible to play for Miami in 2019.  Well, provided he actually sticks with this particular commitment this time around.

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.

Miami lands commitment from three-star 2020 Washington State signee Keyshawn Smith

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The personnel roll on which the Miami Hurricanes football program has been on is showing no signs of abatement.

After some initial uncertainty, Houston quarterback D’Eriq King announced Monday that he will be transferring to the Miami Hurricanes football team.  Not long after, AAC Defensive Player of the Year Quincy Roche announced that he will be doing the same.  Hell, even the Florida International kicker who taunted Miami after beating them joined the Hurricanes.

A day after King and Roche hopped aboard, so did Keyshawn Smith — although his addition comes with a bit of a twist.

Writing “[m]y dream school is the University of Miami,” the Class of 2020 wide receiver announced on Twitter that he is committing to The U.  The twist comes in the fact that Smith had signed his National Letter of Intent with Washington State during the Early Signing Period last month.

Because Mike Leach subsequently left Wazzu to take the Mississippi State job, however, Smith’s old school released him from his NLI so he could join his new school.

“From the West Coast to the East Coast, I am ready to get it going in the 305!” Lewis wrote. “Let’s do this!

“Special thanks to everyone that supported me through this very long process.”

Smith is expected to enroll in classes at U-M this week.  That will allow him to participate in spring practice with his new Miami Hurricanes football teammates.

A three-star prospect, Smith was rated as the No. 152 receiver in the country and the No. 84 player in the state of California regardless of position.  Smith would be the third receiver added by the Hurricanes this cycle, the others being four-star recruits in Michael Redding III and Dazalin Worsham.  The former is the No. 28 player at the position, the latter No. 57.

Third NC State football player this month hits the portal

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Who does this NC State football team think it is, Clemson?

Citing an unnamed source, 247Sports.com has reported that defensive lineman Joseph Boletepeli (pictured, No. 99) has entered the NCAA transfer database.  The website did note that “Boletepeli is still on the active roster for the Wolfpack and can still return to the program despite entering the portal.”

No specific reason for the decision was given, although playing time certainly played a role.

A three-star member of the Class of 2018 for NC State football, Boletepeli was rated as the No. 27 player regardless of position in the state of North Carolina.  During his two seasons with the Wolfpack, Boletepeli played in seven games.  Four of those appearances came this past season.

Boletepeli started the first two games of his true freshman campaign.  This season, Boletepeli was a No. 2 defensive end who ultimately dropped further down on the depth chart.

Barring something unexpected, Boletepeli will have to sit out the 2020 season if he moves on to another FBS school.  That would then leave him with two years of eligibility he could begin using in 2021.

Boletepeli is the third NC State football player to enter the portal this month.  Jan. 7, linebacker Brock Miller announced on Twitter that he was leaving as a graduate transfer.  A week later, defensive end Jeffrey Gunter was reported to be making the same move.

Over the weekend, Miller announced that he would be transferring to Boise State.

Southern Miss co-DC Derek Nicholson moves on to Louisville

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A familiar face has returned to the Louisville football coaching family.

In a release, Louisville announced that ACC Coach of the Year Scott Satterfield has hired Derek Nicholson to his staff as inside linebackers coach.  Nicholson will take over the void left by Dale Jones‘ departure for the defensive coordinator job at Appalachian State.

“Derek has an infectious personality that will blend well within our staff,” the Louisville football head coach said in a statement. “He will bring great energy to our program and is an excellent recruiter. He has shown that he’s a great teacher of defensive football and will be a great addition to our defensive staff.”

This will be Nicholson’s second stint with the Louisville football team.  In 2014, Nicholson coached the Cardinals’ outside linebackers and defensive ends.

In between his time at the UofL, Nicholson spent four years at Southern Miss.  The first two he coached the defensive line.  He was the co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach the past two seasons.

Nicholson played his college football at Florida State.

“I’d like to thank Scott Satterfield, Bryan Brown, Cort Dennison and the rest of the Louisville football program for this amazing opportunity,” Nicholson said. “My family and I are extremely excited to be back at Louisville and in the Atlantic Coast Conference. I look forward to working with the coaching staff and coaching the inside linebackers. There is something special is brewing in Louisville and I’m thrilled to be a part of it.”

Marshall WR Obi Obialo makes way into the portal

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One of the best names in the sport, and a Marshall Thundering Herd football player to boot, is the latest to hit the portal.

Over the weekend, Obi Obialo announced on his personal Twitter account that he has decided to place his name into the NCAA transfer database.  The move is normally the first step in a departure, although the wide receiver could always return to the Marshall Thundering Herd football team.

“I want to thank all of the coaches and staff at Marshall for the opportunity to grow into the person and player I am today,” Obialo wrote.

Obialo also confirmed in the same post that he will be leaving the Herd as a graduate transfer.  The 2020 season will serve as his final season of collegiate eligibility.

Obialo actually began his playing career at Oklahoma State as a three-star 2016 signee who was originally a walk-on.  In May of 2017, Obialo opted to transfer from OSU.  A month later, he moved on to Marshall.

In 2017 and 2018, Obialo started 16 games for the Thundering Herd, including all 13 in the latter season.  In that 2018 season, Obialo was second on the team in receptions (42), receiving yards (505) and receiving touchdowns (four).

A foot injury sidelined Obialo for all but one game this past season.  In that limited action, he caught 18 passes for 244 yards.

Because he played in just the four games, that will allow Obialo to take a redshirt for the 2019 season.  The move also preserved a year of eligibility that he will presumably use elsewhere.