Remember Julius Thomas?
The basketball/ football player at Portland State who turned into one of the best tight ends in the National Football League? A household name in fantasy football leagues, Thomas gained his notoriety from being one of Peyton Manning’s best receivers in Denver.
Thomas even represented Denver in Super Bowl 2014, which spread his fame even further and also created a matchup between two former Vikings, as Deshawn Shead played for the opposing Seahawks.
Unfortunately for Thomas, his Super Bowl experience didn’t end with him and the rest of his Broncos getting rings. Instead, the arguably number one offense in NFL history put up eight points in a Super Bowl that saw the largest margin of victory ever for the final game of the season.
As Denver’s star tight end, Thomas finished Super Bowl 2014 with four receptions for 27 yards. It wasn’t much for the pro bowl selection, who had 788 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns over the course of the regular season.
So what’s Julius Thomas up to now?
Last season Thomas’ numbers were down from Denver’s Super Bowl appearing season. He caught the same number of touchdowns, but had 300 less yards. And he started in four less games. He was on fire through the first five games of the season, catching nine of his twelve touchdowns in that span. But the Broncos offense wasn’t quite the same as the previous season.
All of that experience with Denver was enough to earn Thomas a five-year, $46-million contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Jacksonville, a team that can be described as the polar opposite of Denver, will allow for the next step in Thomas’ career. Instead of being on a team with Hall of Fame experience and veteran leadership that made Thomas the student, the tight end will now become the exact veteran experience that he learned from in Denver.
Jacksonville is a young team. If you need any reason to think Jacksonville is young, look at the quarterback position. Blake Bortles, who will be throwing to Thomas, started 13 games last year. He was the third pick in the NFL draft. Thomas will be catching footballs from a quarterback who has 2,908 yards in his career, instead of 69,691 yards.
The Jaguars will just be another obstacle in Thomas’ career. Playing without Peyton Manning will be about Thomas proving he is worth the contract that Jacksonville gave him.
Also, as a former PSU athlete, Thomas’ story accomplishes more than self-validation. It gives more of a voice to any PSU athlete who wants to make it on a professional level. From basketball to football, if you can say anything about the tight end’s career, it’s that he’s constantly working hard to get where he is. Look at his first couple of years in the NFL: he caught only two passes.
He caught over 1,000 yards and 24 touchdowns in the next two seasons.
Keep watching Thomas. Pick him up in your fantasy league. Maybe don’t turn off a Jaguars game right away like most NFL fans do. Check out Bortles to Thomas first.