PISCATAWAY, N.J. – Rutgers lost its second starting cornerback of the week when red-shirt freshman Ian Thomas left the team to pursue a baseball career. Thomas, who emerged as a starter after a position change, will no longer be a part of the program.
“He’s decided to leave the program,” said head coach Kyle Flood. “He’s going to pursue a career in baseball and we wish him the best for Ian and his family.”
The decision came as a shock to other players in the defensive secondary, but the program feels ready to move on quickly with the players it has.
“I honestly did not [see it coming],” said junior safety Lorenzo Waters. “He kind of has a calm attitude. I never really had any heightened awareness to it but that’s just what he went with.”
Junior corner Gareef Glashen returned to practice today following a two-week absence for unspecified personal reasons. Rutgers will rely more heavily on true freshmen Anthony Cioffi and Nadir Barnwell.
“You just work with the guys that you have,” Waters said. “You can’t do anything about that situation, so we have great young corners in Nadir and Anthony. They’re going to step in for us.”
Freshmen Jevon Tyree and Delon Stephenson will also get looks at cornerback in the effort to replace Thomas and fifth-year senior Lew Toler. Stephenson moved from corner to safety during the spring and is now playing both spots along with his special teams role.
Tyree red-shirted last year and moves into a bigger role during the bye week.
“I think we’ve got a good group over there,” Flood said. “We’ve got to build depth. … A guy like Delon Stephenson is going to work some at corner and in the slot and maybe give us a chance to provide a bit more depth than we have right now.”
Thomas is expected to transfer to another school for baseball.