That was the genius part of Paul Johnson’s offense. No, Tech didn’t throw much. When it did, its wideouts – Johnson’s offense included no tight ends – drew single coverage. Thomas against any cornerback was a mismatch. He’d outrun most. He’d overpower any and all.
For all the numbers we’ve cited, here’s the jaw-dropper: In 2009, Thomas averaged 25.1 yards per catch. That’s one-fourth of a football field per reception. That’s outrageous. That was Bay-Bay.
Demaryius Thomas was found dead in his Roswell home Thursday. He was 33. I’ll not pretend I knew him well, but I saw many of his Tech games and witnessed many interviews. The first two seasons under Paul Johnson were among the giddier in Institute annals. Thomas was a source of much of that joy. He was fun to watch. He had fun playing. He was a great collegian. He became a great pro.
In the NFL, he played a key part in the signature moments of quarterbacks as disparate as Tim Tebow and Peyton Manning. Thomas’ 80-yard touchdown for Denver in overtime against Pittsburgh is what we recall first about Tebow’s post-Florida life. Of Thomas’ five consecutive 1,000-yard seasons, four came with Manning as quarterback. The fourth ended with the Broncos winning the Super Bowl in Manning’s final game.
Thomas grew up in Laurens County, which sits just off I-16 between Macon and Savannah. His mother and his grandmother went to jail for distributing crack cocaine. His father often was away on military duty. His mother’s sentence was commuted by President Obama in November 2015. The first two times she saw her son play football came in a playoff win against Pittsburgh and the Super Bowl victory over Carolina.
Thomas is gone now. It makes no sense, but what, in the grand scheme, really does? The best we can hope to do is live a life that makes others remember us fondly. Bay Bay Thomas aced that test. We’re saddened by his loss. We’ll never forget his life.