Some clarity to the Jeff Thomas saga has been achieved. Some.
Shortly before Miami’s inexplicable loss to Georgia Tech this past Saturday, The U announced that Thomas had been suspended for unspecified violations of team rules. During a subsequent radio appearance Monday, head coach Manny Diaz stated that the football program “should know more in the next day or two” when it came to the wide receiver’s status for this Saturday’s game against Pitt.
Wednesday, Diaz confirmed that Thomas’ suspension will last one more game, which will sideline him for the Panthers. Barring a setback — which, given Thomas’ past, is certainly possible — the junior will be eligible to return for the Florida State game Nov. 2.
Thus far, Diaz has given no public indication as to the reasoning behind a two-game suspension that continues 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.
This season, Thomas is third on the Hurricanes in receptions (24) and receiving yards (270). His two receiving touchdowns are tied for second on the team.