Two months after then-Miami coach Mark Richt dismissed sophomore Jeff Thomas from the team, new Hurricanes coach Manny Diaz has welcomed the playmaker back.
The university confirmed Wednesday that Thomas was returning to the football program.
Thomas, who previously announced he would transfer to Illinois, addressed his return to Miami in an Instagram post Tuesday.
“Tuff decision,” he wrote. “But I have decided to keep playing Football and earning my Degree at The University at Miami. Huge Thanks to the University of Illinois for giving me the opportunity to accomplish my future dreams. Please with all do respect. Respect my decision, thanks! #GoIllini #GoCanes”
On Nov. 21, Richt released Thomas from the team after he reportedly had a falling out with coaches and missed multiple practices. He was benched for the first two series of Miami’s Nov. 17 win at Virginia Tech.
“We have high standards for excellence, for conduct and for the commitment to team for all of the young men who wear our uniform, and we will not waver from those standards,” Richt said in a statement. “We wish Jeff the very best as he moves forward in his journey.”
Richt retired following a 7-6 season. Diaz, who served as Richt’s defensive coordinator from 2016-18, was hired to lead the Hurricanes on Dec. 30.
Thomas appeared in 24 games in 2017 and 2018, catching 52 passes for 937 yards (18.0-yard average) with five touchdowns.
He has averaged 22.6 yards per kickoff return and 24.6 per punt return, including a 51-yard touchdown return in his final game last season against the Hokies.