An Illinois defensive back has decided that his next step is towards the NCAA transfer portal.

Jeremy Werner of Illini Inquirer reported on Thursday that redshirt defensive back Joseph Thompson has entered his name in the transfer database and will explore his options outside of Champaign. He redshirted last season, his first year with the program.

Entering the transfer portal does not force a student-athlete to leave the program. If it’s in his best interest, Thompson would be permitted by NCAA guidelines to rejoin the Illinois football program.

Thompson was a three-star member of Illinois’ 2019 recruiting class. The Chicago native was listed as the No. 27 prospect out of the state of Illinois and one of the top 125 cornerbacks in the cycle.

As a recruit, Thompson received eight total offers. He picked Illinois over Iowa State, Ball State, Southern Miss, Miami (OH), Toledo, Northern Illinois and Western Michigan.

Illinois finished the 2019 season with a 6-7 record. The Fighting Illini open the 2020 season against Illinois State.