SALT LAKE CITY — Citing “unfinished business,” starting running back Tavion Thomas is staying at Utah.
The single-season touchdown record holder at Utah announced Thursday his decision to stay after contemplating a potential move to pursue an NFL career after one season at a Power Five program. Thomas rushed for 1,108 yards and finished the season with 21 rushing touchdowns as the dominant back in Utah’s deep room.
But Thomas said he wanted to come back to Utah to earn his degree and “show kids where I’m from that it doesn’t matter what your circumstances are. You can do anything you put your mind to.”
With Thomas back, in addition to tight ends Brant Kuithe and Dalton Kincaid announcing their return for another season, Utah returns much of its production from its 2021 season, which finished 13 nationally in rushing and 14th in scoring offense.
“I love this city, I love these fans, and I’m looking forward to putting on the red and white for one more year,” Thomas said.
Thomas, who called the last year “nothing short of a blessing,” had a tumultuous start to his career at Utah after a fumbling problem left him out of the lineup until a Week 5 performance against USC where he rushed for 113 yards and one touchdown on 16 carries. From there, Thomas gained the confidence of his coaches and become the lead back in the room.
At one point in the season, the sophomore back had back-to-back weeks where he rushed for four touchdowns in a game and then followed it up with another three-touchdown performance a week later to total 11 touchdowns in a three-week period. In the end, Thomas was named to the All-Pac-12 first team and cemented an explosive offense for the Utes.
Prior to Utah’s appearance in its first Rose Bowl, Thomas said he hadn’t made up his decision about what he was planning to do but wanted to see his draft stock before deciding.
“So if I got to come back another year, I wouldn’t mind to,” Thomas said. ‘I would love to come back here. So I’m just going to wait until after the game after everything done, after the season.
“To be honest, I feel like I’ve grown — I really feel like I’ve grown up a lot, just handling my — handling situations way better than I was my freshman year. Just taking coaching more. Just, you know, just being a good teammate. So I feel like I’ve grown up a lot, though.”