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Rutgers Starting CB Leaves Team

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Cornerback Ian Thomas, No. 23, decided to leave Rutgers to play baseball, the team announced Monday. Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images.
Cornerback Ian Thomas, No. 23, decided to leave Rutgers to play baseball, the team announced Monday. Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images.

An already-strapped Rutgers secondary suffered a big blow Monday when coach Kyle Flood announced starting cornerback Ian Thomas left the team to pursue baseball at another school.

Veteran Lew Toler broke his left arm against Louisville on Thursday, the New Jersey Star-Ledger reported. Thomas' decision leaves true freshmen Nadir Barnwell and Anthony Cioffi and senior Gareef Glashen, who just missed two games for personal reasons, as the only cornerbacks on the roster, according to the paper.

Thomas made six tackles, intercepted Derek Carr in the season opener and recorded two passes defensed, starting three games and playing in six.

Cornerback Logan Ryan, a third-round pick by the New England Patriots, suggested to Flood that Thomas, who joined the Scarlet Knights as a receiver, would make a good cornerback.

With Ryan an early exit and seniors Brandon Jones, Marcus Cooper and Mason Robinson exhausting their eligibility, Thomas made a meteoric rise up the depth chart, earning the team's Most Improved Defensive Player Award during spring camp.

The announcement comes at a curious time in the middle of the season. It's unclear how the baseball schedule affected the timing, and Flood did not say to which school Thomas was transferring.