Shamarko Says: Syracuse Strong Safety Staying in School for Senior Season

Danny BaylissCorrespondent IDecember 31, 2011

Thomas' return to the Orange lineup next year means there's one less roster spot that coach Doug Marrone has to fill at the last second.
Thomas' return to the Orange lineup next year means there's one less roster spot that coach Doug Marrone has to fill at the last second.Chris McGrath/Getty Images

Syracuse head football coach Doug Marrone received some good news Friday, news that was certainly needed in the worst way for Orange nation. 

On the heels of defensive end Chandler Jones' announcement that he is leaving SU early for the NFL draft was another announcement regarding an Orange player's plans. Strong safety Shamarko Thomas announced via Twitter that he will return to Syracuse for his senior season.

Thomas tweeted, "I've decided to put my NFL career on hold for another year and will remain at SU for another season to further develop myself as an athlete." The Virginia Beach native followed that tweet up with another that cited his reason for returning.

Many Orange fans were probably surprised by Thomas' decision. It was a known fact that Thomas was leaning towards leaving for the NFL. The early departures of Jones and junior receiver Dorian Graham certainly made Thomas' decision much more shocking. 

Despite several injuries, Thomas played in all 12 of Syracuse's games and tallied 59 tackles. His production will probably see an increase next season, as his free safety partner Phillip Thomas will be gone due to suspension.

Marrone, who is known for his defensive coaching prowess, will have his work cut out for him next year. But the return of Thomas and the possible addition of Brooklyn recruit Wayne Morgan should start to ease his worries about the Syracuse secondary.

Marrone can now shift his focus to improving the defensive line, where the path to recovery starts with multiple prospects that are still undecided.