DENVER (CBS4) – It was a coming out party for Julius Thomas last Thursday as he caught his first NFL touchdown. Then he added another, and it wound up being the first two of the historic seven touchdowns tossed by Peyton Manning against the Baltimore Ravens.
Thomas, who earned the starting tight end job during during the preseason, said on his first touchdown he was able to get a good sell on the linebacker.
“I got his eyes to come away from me for a second and just took it up the seam and bent around that linebacker and I was able to make it before that back-side safety had a chance to come over and affect the pass,” Thomas said.
He said at first it came as a bit of a shock.
“It’s something you always imagine and something you visualize,” Thomas said. “When you’re finally there, it kind of caught me off-guard a little bit. I was just really thankful to have scored my first touchdown and to be playing football again. I just wanted to point up to the sky and give God his credit for allowing me to be back on the field.”
Aside from running routes, Thomas, who has been fighting injuries for the past two seasons, also held his own blocking.
“I didn’t do terrible. I think there’s always going to be room for improvement in all aspects of my game, especially as a young player,” he said. “I think I was able to do some things well. Some things I watched on film, we’re going to go back and correct … it takes time just like everything else.”
Thomas never played high school football, he was a basketball star. It wasn’t until college that he decided he wanted to become a two-sport athlete.
“In high school I was really dedicated to playing basketball. I didn’t start off really good at it and I worked my way up. By the time I got to my senior year I was a pretty good player. I didn’t always know if I’d be able to make it to the NBA.”
He said it was really just important for him to get a college scholarship.
“Just to be able to have that opportunity for me to play in college and get an education was something I was really striving for.”
Thomas was an All-Conference selection and got to play in two NCAA tournament games while at Portland State University. He said he got the itch to play football when he was taking summer semester classes and would watch the football team practice.
“I was like, ‘You know I really regret not playing football in high school. I think I want to be a two-sport athlete in college.’ I approached the football coaches and told them, ‘I want to come out and play wide receiver for you guys,’ “ Thomas said. “They told me, ‘Hey, you know, it’s going to be hard for us to say no to a guy who’s 6-foot-5, 220 (pounds).’ ”
Thomas said his basketball coach wasn’t much of a fan of the decision and didn’t want Thomas to play football.
“I wasn’t able to play but they told me if I didn’t redshirt I’d have an extra year of eligibility when I was done playing basketball and I could use it to play football … the football coaches would always say, ‘You know you’ve got to come out that fifth year.’ I told them from the beginning that that was something I wanted to do.”
The Broncos travel to New York to take on Peyton Manning’s brother Eli and the Giants on Sunday. Kickoff is at 2:25 p.m. on CBS4.
- By Matthew J. Buettner, CBSDenver.com
Watch more of the video with Julius Thomas in the Xfinity Monday Live! section.