Thomas plans on sticking with Illini

Thomas plans on sticking with Illini

Speculation in the last 72 hours centered around whether Jeff Thomas would actually wind up at Illinois or stay at Miami.

The transfer wide receiver cleared up those rumors on Monday afternoon. He's coming to Illinois.

"I'm on my way now," Thomas told The News-Gazette. "I'm really excited to get started at Illinois."

Thomas is still waiting on his transcripts, but could start classes at Illinois on Tuesday, he said.

Thomas didn't buy into any of the rumors or talk he would go back to Miami, which has a new head coach in Manny Diaz. Diaz was named the Hurricanes coach on Dec. 30, the same day Mark Richt announced his retirment.

Richt dismissed Thomas from Miami on Nov. 21 before Illinois announced on Dec. 21 he would transfer to Illinois. He has two seasons of eligibilty left.

Did he consider staying at Miami?

"Not really," Thomas said. "It was probably because of the post I had deleted off Twitter and Instagram."

The 5-foot-10, 175-pound Thomas caught 52 passes for 937 yards and five touchdowns in his two seasons with the Hurricanes, including a team-high 35 catches for 563 yards in 11 games this season.

The East St. Louis product won The News-Gazette's All-State Player of the Year honors in 2016 after hauling in 50 receptions for 1,101 yards and 13 touchdowns his senior season en route to helping the Flyers win a Class 7A state title at Memorial Stadium.

Normally, transfers have to sit out a season when they go from one FBS program to another if they haven't graduated, but Illinois coach Lovie Smith indicated last month that Illinois would pursue a waiver to grant Thomas immediate eligibility for the 2019 season.

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