The author of one of the most noteworthy flip-flops of the offseason has finally spoken publicly about his much-discussed about-face.
In late December, Illinois announced that Jeff 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 in mid-January that there was a possibility the receiver will return; that possibility turned into a reality a couple of days later as the wide receiver reneged on his commitment to the Illini and returned to the Hurricanes.
Nearly three months after reversing course, Thomas addressed the media and explained his reasoning for returning to The U.
“To just finish what I started,’’ the talented wideout said according to the Miami Herald, “because I made a commitment that I was going to come here my freshman year. I just wanted things to be great again. …
“I wanted to take that advantage again like I did my freshman year when they offered me in the first place. I wanted to keep that tradition going.”
Because Thomas never actually enrolled in and attended classes at Illinois, he is eligible to play for Miami in 2019.
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.
As a true freshman the year before, he averaged an even 22 yards per catch on his 17 receptions and caught a pair of touchdown passes.