April 21, 2018 | ° F

Thomas readies for homecoming

Football practice notebook

Photo by Keith Freeman |

Sophomore cornerback Jordan Thomas (29) may see increased repetitions in the secondary against Syracuse. Thomas continues to return kicks with classmate Jeremy?Deering.

Growing up 45 minutes from the Syracuse campus, Jordan Thomas has a rare opportunity to return to New York for Saturday’s Big East opener.

Surprisingly, it is also his first chance to visit the Carrier Dome.

“I’m looking forward to going home, seeing my friends and family again, and finally stepping foot in the Carrier Dome,” said the sophomore cornerback. “It’s been a long time coming.”

Thomas had 16 confirmed family and friends making the trip from Endicott, N.Y., at last count, and they could potentially see Thomas play an increased role.

He will continue to return kickoffs — that much is certain — but he could also see his first real playing time on defense after lining up last season as a running back.

Head coach Greg Schiano previously said he would not hesitate to play Thomas, but redshirt freshman Gareef Glashen came off the bench last week against Ohio.

Thomas did not.

“[We might] mix it up and get some fresh guys on the field,” Schiano said. “Maybe fatigue is part of our issue. We were chasing guys all over the place on Saturday and I assume we’ll be chasing them again.”

Although he is new to the position, Thomas brings an ability to win those races.

He set a sectional record in the 200-meter dash at Union-Endicott High School — an area that supports Penn State as much as it does Syracuse.

Thomas played cornerback and safety there, but Rutgers used him as running back as a true freshman, when he led the team in rushing.

Then Schiano asked him to switch to defense.

“I knew coming in it was going to take time,” Thomas said. “I knew I was going to have to grind. I knew it would be a process. I’m still getting adjusted to it, but it’s coming along smoothly.”

Junior defensive end Marvin Booker could see his first action Saturday after suffering an undisclosed injury before the season opener, which he still started.

“I didn’t think so at the beginning of the week, but maybe now,” Schiano said. “He’s got a chance. He doesn’t look 100 percent, but he has a chance.”

Booker repeatedly suffered setbacks since the injury, which forces him to play through pain, but will not get any worse.

Schiano removed the Piscataway High School product from the two-deep depth chart earlier this week in favor of sophomore Marcus Thompson.

Sophomore running back Jeremy Deering has not yet caught up to the rest of the Scarlet Knights since missing most of training camp with lingering concussion symptoms, and Schiano does not expect him to.

“I don’t know if you ever catch up because the guys who got in camp are now moving forward from there,” Schiano said. “I don’t believe in catching up. What we’re trying to do is get him the things he’s going to do only, so we can get him perfect at doing those. That’s our goal.”

For Deering, that is earning occasional carries, catching the ball out of the backfield and lining up wide, and returning kicks, which he did for the first time against Ohio.

Schiano expressed regret at not making Syracuse tight end Nick Provo — one of Orange quarterback Ryan Nassib’s top targets — a bigger target of his own.

Rutgers recruited the 6-foot-4 Provo out of West Palm Beach, Fla., but did not heavily pursue  Provo, who has 15 catches for two scores and averages 11.7 yards per catch.

“We recruited him,” Schiano said. “We ended up not going, and I’m sure he doesn’t forget that, either. We probably made a mistake there.”

By Steven Miller

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