Tyler Geving, the basketball coach at Portland State, used to chuckle when the backup power forward would talk about playing football once his eligibility on the hardwood was exhausted. Geving viewed it as more of the bravado he’d come to expect from Julius Thomas, who hadn’t laced up a pair of cleats since his mother made him give up football in high school.
“He always joked about it, or we thought he was joking about it,” Geving told USA TODAY Sports. “We teased him. We said, ‘You’d take one hit and that would be the end of you.'”
Geving shared that memory this week after watching Thomas’ breakout performance in the Denver Broncos’ season-opening 49-27 rout of the Baltimore Ravens. The former power forward is now a starting NFL tight end who hauled in two of Peyton Manning’s NFL record-tying seven touchdown passes during a five-catch, 110-yard evening.
It was Thomas’ first extensive action since the Broncos drafted him in the fourth round in 2011. And it comes after he played only a single season of college football at Portland State, a Big Sky Conference school that competes in the Football Championship Subdivision.
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