Virginia Tech QB Thomas will return
The 6-foot-6 redshirt junior told the Hokies coaching staff on Tuesday, the final day to declare for the draft.
Thomas has started the past 27 games for Virginia Tech, passing for 6,096 yards and 37 touchdowns while running for 1,015 yards and 20 scores. He will enter his redshirt season year third in both career passing yards for the Hokies - 901 behind Tyrod Taylor's record of 7,017 yards - and in career total offense - 2,102 behind Taylor's record of 9,213 yards.
Thomas graduated in December with a degree in human development.
''I'm deciding to come back to Tech to better myself and this team for the future,'' Thomas said in a statement released by the school. ''I'm looking forward to what this upcoming season holds. The NFL has always been a goal of mine, but the NFL will always be there while college is only a five-year experience that you can't get back.''
Thomas had said before the Hokies left Blacksburg, Va., for the Russell Athletic Bowl that his decision would be ''up in the air'' even if the NFL draft advisory board suggested he could be a first-round draft choice. Some early draft projections had him ranked highly among quarterbacks because of his size and running ability, which have drawn comparisons to Cam Newton.
Thomas said he didn't think he was consistent enough to be a winning NFL quarterback, and that ''I love the university, I love the people here, all my friends are still here, and ... I think I need some work to do.''
Virginia Tech began last season with hopes of contending for a national championship, but those expectations were quickly derailed by early-season losses to Pittsburgh and Cincinnati. When three consecutive losses dropped them to 4-6, they had to scramble to beat Boston College and Virginia to qualify for their 20th consecutive bowl game, and they did.
In the Russell Athletic Bowl, they beat Rutgers 13-10 despite a miserable day for Thomas. He was 15 for 39 for 193 yards with two interceptions, but also threw a 21-yard touchdown pass to Corey Fuller in the fourth quarter to tie the game at 10.
The Hokies won in overtime on Cody Journell's 22-yard field goal.