Cavaliers coach Mike London made the announcement Tuesday. He says Thorpe will enroll in January and be eligible immediately after earning a degree in December in exercise and sport science.
A native of Durham, North Carolina, Thorpe caught 42 passes in three seasons at North Carolina for 574 yards and five touchdowns. One of those scoring grabs came at Scott Stadium this season, capping a rally for the Tar Heels in their 28-27 victory against the Cavaliers.
Thorpe finished 13th nationally with a 26.7-yard kickoff return average in 2011, then missed the 2012 season because of an injury.
He had 16 catches for 237 yards and three touchdowns this season.