Miami University’s Maurice Thomas carries the ball against Eastern Illinois during their game at Yager Stadium in Oxford on Sept. 10, 2016. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY E.L. HUBBARD

College football: Miami coach happy to have a healthy Thomas this year

The redshirt junior running back and Talawanda High School graduate only played in three games last year because of a knee injury, but RedHawks coach Chuck Martin said he expects Thomas to be 100 percent for the season opener against Marshall on Sept. 1.

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“He’s a big-play guy,” Martin said last week during Mid-American Conference Media Day at Ford Field. “The last half of two years ago he made a major impact on our football team and was starting to make a huge impact last year, and then he goes down early in the season. When you lose some close games and you don’t have a major weapon like Maurice, you think he could’ve been a little bit of a difference in some games. So we’re excited to have him back.”

The 5-foot-11, 180-pound Thomas ran 11 times for 38 yards and had five catches for 71 yards in 2017. He also returned six kickoffs for 98 yards.

Martin said the plan is to get the ball to Thomas out in space and let him use his skills.

“He’s one of the more fast, dynamic players in our league,” the Miami coach said. “So whether it be returns, whether it be handing it to him, throwing it to him, pitching it to him … whatever it takes trying to get him touches out in space.”

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