Julius Thomas didn’t even play football between his freshman year of high school and his last year of college, and going into Thursday night’s game the Denver Broncos tight end had just one career reception.
It sure didn’t seem that way on Thursday.
In the NFL season opener against the Baltimore Ravens, Thomas had a breakout performance in his team’s blowout win. While the game was still close, Thomas snagged two touchdown catches, helping the Broncos to seize control of the game and put away the Ravens.
The 6-foot-5, 255-pound tight end finished the night with five catches for 110 yards — pretty good for a guy who made his career on the hardwood rather than the gridiron.
Thomas went to Portland State University on a basketball scholarship, playing on two NCAA Tournament teams. Going into his senior year, Thomas told coach Nigel Burton that he was going out for the football team.
It was a good decision. Julius Thomas had an impressive season, prompting the Denver Broncos to trade up into the fourth round to draft him.
Though he has the size and skills to be a star in the league, Thomas had a slower start to his career. He had one catch in his first two years as he battled injuries. In 2012 he was only active for four games.
It’s safe to say most people didn’t see Julius Thomas coming. During the game broadcaster Cris Collinsworth noted that in practice Thomas didn’t catch a single pass as his timing with quarterback Peyton Manning seemed off. Before the game, scouting reports for the Broncos focused on the team’s other talented wide receivers, including Wes Welker and Demaryius Thomas. Thomas hardly warranted a mention.
Nationwide, Julius Thomas is owned in just 4.7 percent of NFL.com fantasy football leagues. That’s likely to change on Friday morning.