Whether Miami’s talented but troubled wide receiver returns in Week 9 remains to be seen.
Shortly before Miami’s inexplicable loss to Georgia Tech this past Saturday, The U announced that Jeff Thomas had been suspended for unspecified violations of team rules. During a radio appearance Monday, Manny Diaz was asked if the suspension was “a one-game thing” or something that could linger deeper into the season.
“I don’t have the answer on that, but I should know more in the next day or two in terms of his status for this Saturday,” the head coach said, referring to this weekend’s game against Pitt.
The suspension and lingering uncertainty over his current status continue what’s been a nearly year-long roller-coaster ride for the receiver.
In late December of last year, 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 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.
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.