Demaryius Thomas is set to be inducted to the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame on Feb. 25. Thomas, a Montrose native, is most well-known for his time with the Jackets and Denver Broncos, being the number one receiver on both teams. Thomas first enrolled at Tech in 2006, where he sat out the season as a redshirt freshman.
The following year, Thomas burst onto the scene, becoming the Jackets’ number two target and accumulating 558 yards — just 30 yards less than the leading option, Greg Smith. After his strong freshman year, Thomas continued to strengthen and became the Jackets leader on offense where he ended up with 627 receiving yards.
In Thomas’ final season, he went out with a bang, successfully accumulating 1154 yards. His 25.1 yards per attempt during that season remains a school record. For his highlight 2009 season, Thomas gained both All-ACC and All-American Honors, as well as became a highly touted draft pick. In the 2010 NFL draft, Thomas was drafted by the Denver Broncos with the 22nd overall pick. Thomas’ first couple of seasons in the NFL were relatively quiet, gaining just over 800 yards.
In 2012, Thomas’ fortunes would change due to the arrival of quarterback Peyton Manning. For the rest of his time in Denver, Thomas would become Manning’s favorite target, and would subsequently make four Pro Bowls, in addition to winning the Super Bowl during the 2015 season.
After his time in Denver, Thomas would finish out his career with one season each on the Houston Texans and New York Jets.
Over the course of his Broncos career, he raked in 9,055 yards and 60 touchdowns, with both being the second most in franchise history. On June 28, 2021, Thomas announced his official retirement from the NFL.
On Dec. 9, 2021, Thomas died in his home due to complications from a seizure disorder at just 33 years old. While the seizures were originally attributed to a car accident he experienced in 2019, Thomas’ brain was posthumously studied by researchers at Boston University, who found his brain was positive for stage two chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE. Thomas is still being honored today by the family of Peyton Manning, who established the Demaryius A. Thomas Scholarship Endowment. The endowment provides academic scholarships to incoming freshmen from Laurens County, Ga.
Alongside a scholarship in his name, Thomas has been inducted to the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame in Denver, Colo. and will soon be inducted to the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame in Macon, Ga. later this month.