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Staying Local: Battlehawks Claim Rights of East St. Louis Alum Jeff Thomas

Friday night in the XFL saw an abundant number of transactions among all 8 teams in the XFL. While notable players like Tavon Austin, Anthony Gordon, and Chris Odom all had their “rights” claimed, the Battlehawks managed to keep a local player who grew up in the shadow of the Arch.

Former East St. Louis Wide Receiver Jeff Thomas was the only player the Battlehawks claimed the rights to for 2024. Thomas had an electrifying career at East St. Louis and would go on to earn a scholarship at the University of Miami. Thomas spent three seasons at “The U”, before declaring for the NFL Draft in 2020. Thomas left Miami with 83 Receptions 1,316 Receiving Yards and 8 Touchdowns. Not only was Thomas an electric receiver, but he also contributed on special teams totaling another 1,484 yards on punts and kick returns.

Thomas would join the New England Patriots as a UDFA in 2020. Dealing with a non-traditional training camp, Thomas would be a part of final cuts in September of 2020. In February of 2022, Thomas was selected in the USFL’s inaugural draft in the 15th round by the Pittsburgh Maulers. Despite injuries Thomas provided quality depth as a receiver and kick returner before being released on May 19th. Thomas would finish the season with the Stallions before getting released in March of 2023.

Thomas now comes “home” to St. Louis, and now has the opportunity to showcase his ability in front of his friends and family. With the Battlehawks currently seeing Darrius Shepherd, Marcell Ateman, Hakeem Butler, and Gary Jennings, all earning NFL contracts, it appears the St. Louis staff has prioritize Receiver as a position of need in 2024. With Thomas the Battlehawks are not only obtaining an electric special teams option, but a local hero who is primed to garner plenty of eyes at the “Dome” in 2024.

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Pat Rifino is a former Security Contractor turned writer. He began his writing career talking about geo-politics, and the defense industry. Now Pat writes about alt-league football, while hanging with his dogs in his off time.

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