Ian Thomas made his first career interception this season against Fresno State. (Cary Edmondson/USA TODAY Sports)
Thomas, a redshirt freshman who started three games for Rutgers this season, will pursue a baseball career at another school.
Flood wished Thomas luck as he departs the team, though Flood told reporters the decision came as a bit of a shock.
"Ian Thomas has decided to leave the program. He's going to pursue a career in baseball, and we wish him the best, he and his family.
“I didn’t see a sign that this would happen. It’s a strange occurrence to me, but it happens. It happens here and it happens other places.
“I saw an article about a kid at UCF [Blake Keller] who was playing for him and decided it wasn’t the right place for him for whatever reason and players make those decisions. Division I football certainly is very demanding and if you’re not 100 percent and you’re heart’s not in it, I could see why somebody would want to move on.”
According to Tom Luicci of the Newark Star-Ledger, Thomas' next destination was not immediately clear.
A school official said he was not made privy to Thomas' plans as to where he might transfer to or whether he would finish out the semester. Anthony Burgos, Thomas' football coach at Franklin (Md.) High School, said his former player did not play high school baseball.
Asked about Thomas' decision to quit football, Burgos said "I did not see it coming."
Flood said Thomas' departure should not change the team's gameplan on defense. The Knights' secondary is young this season, and freshman Nadir Barnwell –- who has started three games –- freshman Anthony Cioffi and redshirt junior Gareef Glashen will look to contribute in Thomas' absence. Fifth-year senior Lew Toler is already sidelined with a broken arm and is unlikely to return in the regular season.
Thomas finishes his Rutgers career with eight tackles and one interception.