The off-field saga and/or soap opera that is Jeff Thomas has officially been passed off to the NFL.
By way of Instagram, Thomas announced that he will be foregoing his final season of eligibility at Miami and making himself available for the 2020 NFL Draft. The wide receiver also confirmed that he will not play in The U’s Independence Bowl matchup with Louisiana Tech.
This season, Thomas served a two-game suspension for violating unspecified team rules. Before and after that punitive measure, Thomas caught 31 passes for 379 yards, numbers that were both third on the Hurricanes this season.
The suspension, though, continued what’s been a year-long roller-coaster ride for the ultra-talented 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 of last year, 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.