ST. LOUIS, MO- University of Illinois Head Football Coach Lovie Smith is getting an early Christmas present. East St. Louis native Jeff Thomas announced Friday night that he’s transferring into the Illini program.
The nationally sought-after wide receiver chose the University of Miami among a host of national suitors and burst onto the scene as a freshman last season in Coral Gables. This fall, however Thomas left the program in November.
“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,” coach Mark Richt said in a news release reported by The Sporting News and other outlets. Thomas disputed the notion he had been dismissed from the program in a tweet which has since been deleted.
Thomas could petition the NCAA to waive the requirement that he sit out a year. He would be eligible to submit his name for the 2020 NFL draft.
Adding Thomas to the fold continues a recent string of recruiting success for Illinois in the St. Louis area. The school landed Trinity HS QB Isaiah Williams, the top-rated player in Missouri’s class of 2019, along with Belleville West Defensive Lineman Keith Randolph and Ladue Defensive Lineman Moses Okpala earlier this week during the early signing period.