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November 6, 2006
No all-star game for Florida's Thomas
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Former Florida Gators defensive tackle Marcus Thomas will not be displaying his wares for NFL scouts at the Senior Bowl or the Hula Bowl.
An official for the Hula Bowl said specifically that Thomas would not be receiving an invitation. An official for the Senior Bowl did not want to discuss any particular player, but said anyone invited to the game had to be in good standing with his university.
Thomas was kicked off the UF team late last week for what coach Urban Meyer deemed an inability "to meet his responsibilities and obligations to remain on the team."
Thomas missed Florida's season opener because of a suspension for failing a drug test during the summer. He also served a two-game suspension midseason for a failed drug test, though Thomas claimed both suspensions were for the same failed test.
Gators officials have declined to discuss Thomas' departure beyond Meyer's statement, which was issued prior to the start of the fourth quarter of Saturday's game at Vanderbilt.
"I don't know the circumstances surrounding his dismissal, but players represent their respective universities," said Steve Hale, executive director of the Senior Bowl, played in Mobile, Ala. "They wear the headgear (their school's helmet)."
Hula Bowl Executive Director Joe Dan Rogers said his game has extended invitations to three Gators – quarterback Chris Leak, wide receiver Dallas Baker and defensive lineman Ray McDonald – and that all of them have accepted. Rogers said the Hula, though, would pass on Thomas.
"It was a unanimous decision (by the selection committee)," Rogers said. "We evaluate players not just on their playing ability but on character. You want to have someone at your game who is going to be an asset, not a liability."
The Hula Bowl will be played in Honolulu on Sunday, Jan. 14 and televised by ESPN. The Senior Bowl is scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 27 and will be televised by NFL Network.
Thomas told the Florida Times-Union, the newspaper in his hometown of Jacksonville, that he was booted by Meyer after he broke curfew, went on an unapproved out-of-town trip and missed a mandatory drug-education class. He said he did not fail a third drug test.
"I violated the rules they set up for me to play football," the 6-foot-3, 296-pound senior told the Times-Union. "I just couldn't keep on going through with it. I violated that and they had to dismiss me."
Thomas had started all five games this season in which he was available. He was second on the Gators' sack list with four. He had 26 tackles, 5.5 for loss.
Thomas was a preseason All-SEC selection and is considered among the top 50 prospects who will be eligible for the NFL Draft.