Ky Thomas leaving Gophers, entering NCAA transfer portal

Gophers freshman running back Ky Thomas had 26 carries for 105 yards and two touchdowns in Saturday's 35-14 win over Indiana at Memorial Stadium. ((credit: University of Minnesota Athletics))

Ky Thomas was the offensive MVP as the Gophers beat West Virginia 18-6 in the Guaranteed Rate Bowl on Dec. 28, but you won’t see him in the Minnesota backfield next season.

Thomas announced on Monday he’s leaving the Gophers and entering the NCAA transfer portal. Thomas had 21 carries for 147 yards and a touchdown in the bowl game. He ended the season leading the Gophers in rushing, with 850 yards and six rushing touchdowns.

Thomas averaged five yards per carry in his freshman season, pairing with Mar’Keise Irving after Mo Ibrahim, Trey Potts and Bryce Williams all went down with season-ending injuries. Irving finished second for the Gophers in rushing with 715 yards and four touchdowns in 12 games.

The Gophers will have a full running back room next season as PJ Fleck returns for his sixth year with Minnesota. Ibrahim, who suffered a torn Achilles in the season-opener against Ohio State, announced before the bowl game he would be coming back to the Gophers for the 2022 season. Trey Potts suffered a season-ending undisclosed injury in the Gophers’ win at Purdue that required him to spend nearly a week in the hospital. Potts was back on campus for final exams, traveled with the team to the Guaranteed Rate Bowl and will effort a comeback for the 2022 season.

Williams suffered a season-ending leg injury in Minnesota’s win at Northwestern that he’s already had surgery for. He’s expected to return healthy next season.

With Ibrahim, Potts and Williams all potentially back, and Irving returning for his sophomore season, Thomas might be seeking a more lead running back role at another program. The NCAA passed a rule in 2021 allowing all athletes a one-time transfer, without penalty.