The number of Ohio State underclassmen yet to make an announcement with regards to leaving school with NCAA eligibility remaining is down to one, as redshirt junior receiver Michael Thomas announced his decision to leave with a message posted to Twitter on Tuesday.
“I’ve had a chance to speak with my dad and family, the people I lean on, and have decided to forgo my senior year and chase a lifelong dream of playing on Sundays,” Thomas wrote.
Thomas stepped up as the true No. 1 target in OSU’s thin receiving corps in 2015. The Los Angeles native led the team in catches, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns with 56, 781 and nine, respectively.
The 6-foot-3 wideout was notable for his strong hands and ability to stay inbounds along the sideline, and caught multiple passes in all 13 games. He tied a season high with seven catches in the Fiesta Bowl win against Notre Dame.
“This is a very hard decision honestly because I genuinely love Ohio State/Urban Meyer and everything this institution has to offer,” Thomas wrote. “It’s hard to say goodbye, but this is an opportunity of a lifetime I can’t pass up.”
Thomas is projected to be one of the first receivers selected in the 2016 NFL draft. He finished his college career with 113 catches for 1,602 yards and 18 touchdowns. He led the team in receptions his final two seasons, with 54 grabs in 2014.
With Thomas’ announcement, the only OSU player yet to announce a decision about leaving or staying is junior safety Vonn Bell. Should Bell make the same decision as eight of his underclassman teammates, OSU would only have six returning offensive and defensive starters in 2016. Bell has until Jan. 18 to declare for the draft.