Todd Thomas (Courier File Photo William McBride)
PITTSBURGH (AP) – Pittsburgh junior linebacker Todd Thomas is leaving the program.
Thomas told coach Paul Chryst Wednesday morning he no longer wanted to be part of the team. The decision comes a day after Thomas was bumped to second string on the depth chart as the Panthers began training camp.
“You may have noticed Todd Thomas isn’t here,” Chryst said. “I had a chance to have some conversations with him the last couple days, and he told me last and this morning that he’s going to leave the team.””
Thomas, from Beaver Falls, Pa., was moved onto the second-team unit as camp opened Tuesday, in the hopes of what Chryst said would “motivate” the linebacker. Thomas had an impressive day Tuesday, batting down three passes in drills.
But a day removed from the decision, Thomas notified Chryst he planned to transfer.
Thomas was expected to contribute heavily as a defensive leader at the outside linebacker position after he started seven contests there last season. Thomas tallied 59 tackles, 1½ sacks, five pass deflections, an interception, and a blocked punt in nine games in 2012.
Even in a unit that returns 11 starters from last year’s defense that finished No. 17 in the nation in total defense at just over 330 yards allowed per game, the loss of a talent like Thomas leaves another hold for Chryst to fill in his second year.
“We obviously like Todd,” Chryst said. “We want what’s best for the kids in the program.”