Paul Johnson’s memories of Demaryius Thomas

Georgia Tech wide receiver Demaryius Thomas (8) celebrates after recovering a fumble for a touchdown.

Credit: Johnny Crawford / AJC

Credit: Johnny Crawford / AJC

Georgia Tech wide receiver Demaryius Thomas (8) celebrates after recovering a fumble for a touchdown.

As former Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson remembered the late Demaryius Thomas Friday morning, many memories popped up from early in the coach’s time at Tech. He shared several of them. Here’s another.

It was in the spring of 2008, Johnson’s first spring practice with the Yellow Jackets. Practice had evidently been more rigorous than it had been previously, and, as Johnson recalled, that led to about six team members showing up in Johnson’s office.

They had brought an alternative practice plan with different drills they were offering to do. Thomas stood in the back.

“And I looked at ‘em, and I took the plan and I said, ‘Really?’” Johnson said. “I said, ‘This is what we can do?’”

The players agreed, perhaps their hopes growing. To which Johnson said he wadded up the plan into a ball, threw it back at the players and shooed them out of his office.

“And Bay-Bay goes, ‘I told you guys that was a bad idea!’” Johnson said, chuckling.

The story, particularly Thomas’ role, rang true to former teammate Roddy Jones. Thomas, typically quiet, wouldn’t have been one to be the leader, “but he was loyal with his boys,” Jones said.

Johnson liked to needle Thomas about Thomas’ insistence on being from Montrose, a tiny town in Laurens County, and not from the more recognized Dublin, the county seat.

“He’d go, ‘Coach, I’m from Montrose,’” Johnson said. “I’d go, ‘Don’t nobody know Montrose. Dude, you’re from Dublin.’”

If Thomas stopped by Johnson’s office, the coach said he might ask him if he’d been back to Dublin recently, causing Thomas to again protest.

Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson (with a little help from Demaryius Thomas, background) shows the quarterback the directions he should throw the ball during football practice at Tech Wednesday, August 12, 2009.

Credit: Johnny Crawford

icon to expand image

Credit: Johnny Crawford

“I’d say, ‘I coached at Georgia Southern. I’ve never heard of Montrose,’” Johnson said. “He goes, ‘You come down there. I’ll show you where Montrose is.’”

Johnson’s fondness and admiration for Thomas was clear.

“I don’t know of anybody who didn’t like Bay-Bay,” Johnson said. “He was just kind of that way, and he was kind of a natural leader because he was such a talented kid, but he worked. Now, he was given a lot of God-given ability, but he worked at it.”

More of recollections from Johnson and others who knew Thomas well can be found in the story linked above.

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