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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.

Report: Illini signee Jeff Thomas could return to Miami

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Well, this is certainly an interesting potential development.

In late December, Illinois announced that Jeff Thomas had signed a financial aid agreement and would enroll at the university 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, replaced by former UM defensive coordinator Manny Diaz, who had taken over as the head coach at Temple a couple of weeks earlier.  The combination of Richt’s retirement and Diaz’s return has apparently cracked the door on a future for Thomas with the Hurricanes as Susan Degnan of the Miami Herald is reporting that there is a possibility that the receiver will return.

Thomas “has conveyed interest to the University of Miami in returning to the school,” Degnan writes; separately, she added that “[o]ne player on last year’s team said he was left with the impression that Thomas will return to the team.” Another said the idea of a return appeals to Thomas.

That said, it’s unclear what exactly are the feelings of Diaz, who will make the final decision on any Thomas return.

While Thomas signed with the Illini, if he didn’t attend classes at the university he would be eligible to play for the Hurricanes in 2019 if he comes back.  At this point, it’s unclear if Thomas ever enrolled in classes at the university.

According to the Herald, there are no legal or other issues that would preclude a return.

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.

Illinois officially welcomes Georgia transfer TE Luke Ford

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Illinois may not have been able to secure a commitment from the top player in the state coming out of high school, but the Illini got him now. Tight end Luke Ford has officially been added to the Illinois football program, as announced today the school Tuesday.

Ford announced his intent to transfer from Georgia to Illinois a few days ago. In his previous statement about his decision to leave the Bulldogs, Ford cited a desire to be closer to his family due to the health of his grandparents and the cost for his family to travel to see him play each week. Illinois head coach Lovie Smith mentioned that factor in a statement about the addition of Ford to the roster.

“Luke Ford was the top-rated recruit in the state of Illinois his senior year and we worked very hard in developing a great relationship during his recruitment,” Smith said in a released statement. “It’s not unusual for athletes wanting to be near home so that family members are close by, and we are extremely happy that Luke felt Illinois was the place for him to attend school and play football after making the decision to transfer.”

Smith and Illinois have been busy adding to their roster with transfer players this offseason. Illinois previously added Miami wide receiver Jeff Thomas and Oklahoma wide receiver A.D. Miller. Minnesota defensive back Rey Estes also previously announced his decision to transfer to Illinois.

All-Freshman B1G TE Louis Dorsey tweets transfer from Illinois

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As he announced on Twitter, Bennett Williams left Illinois earlier this month because of a dismissal.  Because of a decidedly different reason (?), the Fighting Illini has felt yet another personnel loss.

On the same social media website utilized by his former teammate, Louis Dorsey announced that he has “decided it is in my best interest to transfer and continue my career elsewhere.” Dorsey gave no specific reason for his midseason move.

Dorsey was suspended during the spring of this year for violating unspecified violations of team rules.  He was also suspended for the first three games of the 2018 regular season for the same reason.

As a true freshman in 2017, Dorsey led the Illini with three receiving touchdowns; was second in receiving yards with 395; and fourth in receptions with 22.  His 18 yards per reception were tops on the team.  BTN.com named the 6-6, 225-pound Dorsey to its All-Freshman Team for that performance.

Because of his off-field issues, Dorsey has played in just one game and not caught a pass this season.

Illinois loses Mike Dudek to season-ending knee injury for third time

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One game into the season, Illinois wide receiver Mike Dudek is once again lost for the remainder of the season with a season-ending injury. Illinois head coach Lovie Smith announced Dudek will miss the rest of the 2018 season due to an injury. It is the third time in his college football career Dudek has had a season-ending injury.

Dudek suffered a knee injury in the season-opening win against Kent State on Saturday. The details of the knee injury have not been revealed other than the severity causing him to miss the season as a result.

Dudek tore his ACL in the spring of 2016 that forced him to miss the entire 2016 season. The previous year, Dudek experienced a torn ACL that forced him to miss the 2015 season.

Dudek caught four passes for 65 yards in his brief time on the field in 2018. He appeared in seven games for the Illini in 2017, catching 24 passes for 262 yards and a touchdown. Dudek received freshman All-American honors in 2014 after catching 76 passes for 1,038 yards and six touchdowns, but his once-promising college career appears to have come to an end in a very bitter fashion.