Sunday, April 20, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Julius Thomas’ skills honed on the hardwood

By
January 29, 2014 | Leave Comment

JERSEY CITY, N.J. — Broncos third-year tight end Julius Thomas began the season with more NCAA tournament trips (two) on his resume than catches in the NFL (one).

Now, the former power forward at Portland State is the key to Denver’s record-shattering offense, freeing up Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker and Wes Welker, especially in the red zone.

The 6-foot-5, 255-pound late-bloomer is also a bulls-eye for some of Manning’s biggest moments, like when he caught his 51st TD throw that broke Tom Brady’s single-season record, one of a dozen touchdown passes he caught this year, breaking Hall of Famer Shannon Sharpe’s team record for tight ends.

He was Manning’s main target in the AFC Championship, too, with eight receptions for 85 yards a week after his two clutch third-down catches helped ice Denver’s win over San Diego.

“Sometimes I have to remind myself,” Manning said, “that he hasn’t played a ton of football.”

A giant 100-foot banner of Thomas hangs outside the media hotel in Times Square, an indication of just how far this relative football toddler has come.

“Is my helmet on?” Thomas asked sheepishly Monday while aboard the Cornucopia Majesty ship, docked outside the team hotel across the Hudson River.

Yes.

“OK, that’s good. So, I won’t get recognized too much,” Thomas said. “That’s a lot of people walking by seeing that thing.”

He might want to get used to the spotlight.

With the wintry weather and Seattle’s stingy secondary sure to stifle some of Manning’s other options, Thomas could be Denver’s X-factor in the Super Bowl.

“No, this isn’t something that I imagined doing when I was 20 years old getting ready to play in the NCAA tournament,” Thomas said. “I wasn’t thinking, ‘Man, if you just fast-forward that clock a little bit, you’ll be competing in the biggest game in America.’ It’s just a blessing to be here. I’ve been very blessed in my athletic career, so I’m going to enjoy it.”

Thomas played just one year of football in college after exhausting his eligibility on the hardwood. He tried to line up with the receivers on his first day of practice but was ushered over to the tight ends group.

“I was like, ‘What? Hold on, I don’t know about all that,’” Thomas recounted. “But Coach (Nigel) Burton, he sat me down and we talked about it and he told me that he felt if I played tight end I’d be able to create matchup problems.”

Sure enough, he caught 29 passes for 453 yards and earned All-Big Sky Conference first-team honors in 2010, and he caught a touchdown pass and the attention of scouts at the East-West Shrine Game.

“I really thank him for helping me decide to play tight end,” Thomas said. “It was a great move on his part to not let me play receiver. I’ve loved playing tight end ever since.”

Broncos boss John Elway said Thomas reminds him of Sharpe, who was his co-pilot when he was leading the Broncos to Super Bowl titles from the huddle.

“It was like Shannon, who do you cover Shannon with? A corner? Or do you cover him with a safety or a linebacker,” Elway asked. “So, the matchups were always very favorable.”

Thomas’ only obstacle was staying healthy.

He got hurt on his first catch as a pro, hobbling off the field with a high right ankle sprain on Sept. 18, 2011.

When Manning picked Denver as his destination that following spring, Thomas was among a handful of guys who gathered on local high school fields for clandestine workouts during the lockout, but soon he needed surgery and wouldn’t catch a single pass in 2012.

He gained confidence, however, running with the scout team and capitalized on extra time with Manning last offseason when it was Jacob Tamme and Joel Dreessen who were hurt to gain his quarterback’s confidence, too.

He was pretty sure only friends and family picked him up in fantasy football leagues before his five-catch, 161-yard, two-touchdown performance against Baltimore in the NFL opener on Sept. 5 — 729 days since his first NFL reception.

He finished with 65 receptions for 778 yards and added 14 receptions for 161 yards in the postseason. All the while, he flashes some of the same moves on the football field that he used to showcase on the basketball floor, where he was a bully on the blocks.

Shielding a defensive back to give the quarterback an opening, he said, is just like posting up a player under the basket to give the point guard a clear passing lane.

Tight ends with power forward in their DNA are matchup nightmares because they’re faster than linebackers and bigger than safeties, said Thomas’ position coach, Clancy Barone, who’s also tutored the alpha hoopster-turned-gridiron great, Antonio Gates.

What set Thomas apart was being such a quick study after walking on as a college senior.

“We knew he was very grown-up football-wise,” Barone said. “What’s the best way to put this, he wasn’t immature as a football player. He wasn’t like your typical guy with the big eyes that say, ‘This is all so new to me.’ He’s a guy that you could tell knew football. He had studied football and he was acting like a pro already. That’s a rare find.”

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

Solano News

Bay Area makes growth plans

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A1, 1 Comment

 
Supervisor candidates vary on Plan Bay Area

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A1, 14 Comments | Gallery

Earth Day means cleanup Day for Suisun City

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A1, 5 Comments | Gallery

 
Hop to it: Couple lights up home, yard for Easter

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: C1

Ranking the best Bay Area athletes

By Brad Stanhope | From Page: A2

 
The Edge hosts Easter egg hunt

By Adrienne Harris | From Page: A3

Alooma Temple keeps children in mind

By Adrienne Harris | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
Fairfield author to speak at women’s expo

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

Piano scholarship competition set in Vallejo

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

 
The resurrection has changed the lives of Christians

By Perry W. Polk | From Page: C3

 
Armijo graduate completes basic training

By Nick DeCicco | From Page: C4

 
Understanding your health insurance

By Morgan Westfall | From Page: D4, 1 Comment

 
Record Store Day a commercial hit

By Adrienne Harris | From Page: A5 | Gallery

Easter egg hunt brings out the smiles

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A5, 2 Comments | Gallery

 
Dutch Bros. joins Fairfield coffee corridor

By Barry Eberling | From Page: B7, 6 Comments | Gallery

City sets plan to dispose of property assets

By Brian Miller and Karl Dumas | From Page: B7, 1 Comment

 
Fairfield police log: April 17, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

Suisun City police log: April 17, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

 
.

US / World

Counties tell Brown they need money for his law

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1, 1 Comment

 
San Francisco probe leading to entrapment claims

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

Exhibit recreates Warhol’s 1964 World’s Fair mural

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
NASA’s space station Robonaut finally getting legs

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10 | Gallery

Ohio couple married 70 years die 15 hours apart

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11 | Gallery

 
Documents detail another delayed GM recall

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11, 1 Comment

At barricades, Ukraine insurgents await Easter

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

 
Official: 3 bodies retrieved from inside ferry

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13 | Gallery

13th body pulled from snow in Everest avalanche

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

 
Costa Rican a celebrity after certified miracle

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14 | Gallery

.

Opinion

Government … for the government?

By Bill James | From Page: A8, 9 Comments

 
Editorial Cartoons for April 20, 2014

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Question of the week: Will Flight 370 be found?

By Daily Republic | From Page: A8

 
Neighborhood speeders don’t get it

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8, 7 Comments

 
Why would a person do this?

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8, 3 Comments

Sound off for April 20, 2014

By Daily Republic | From Page: A8, 1 Comment

 
Jeb Bush, love, and today’s GOP

By Ruben Navarrette | From Page: A9, 1 Comment

 
 
.

Living

Today in History for April 20, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: April 20, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

Bill Nye says he underestimated debate’s impact

By The Associated Press | From Page: C3, 10 Comments

 
Book details lives of cloistered nuns

By The Associated Press | From Page: C3

Horoscopes for April 20, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: D4

 
Pete spends weekends at my house but he never invites me to his

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: D4

.

Entertainment

Flea of Red Hot Chili Peppers has book deal

By The Associated Press | From Page: C2

 
Tartt, Goodwin finalists for Carnegie medals

By The Associated Press | From Page: C2

New book on fracking illuminates pros, cons

By The Associated Press | From Page: C2

 
PUBLISHERS WEEKLY BEST-SELLERS

By The Associated Press | From Page: C2

TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B11

 
.

Sports

A’s score 3 in 9th, rally past Astros 4-3

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Warriors beat Clippers 109-105 in playoff opener

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Kings, Sharks look to put Game 1 in past

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Stults, Padres hand Giants third straight loss

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Hawks take 1-0 lead by rolling past Pacers 101-93

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Calathes suspension a reminder of supplement risk

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Raptors GM Ujiri uses profanity about Brooklyn

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Williams scores 24 as Nets beat Raptors 94-87

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
Durant leads Thunder past Grizzlies 100-86

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Federer beats injured Djokovic to reach final

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3 | Gallery

 
Indians set two new school records for track

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B4

Wie shoots 67, wins LPGA LOTTE Championship

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
Rapids, Earthquakes play to scoreless tie

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

Travis Bowl Highlights

By Daily Republic | From Page: B4

 
Jimenez leads Langer by 1 shot in Greater Gwinnett

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

Stars Recreation bowling results

By Daily Republic | From Page: B4

 
Donald shoots 66, takes lead at RBC Heritage

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

Big names among prospective Buffalo Bills buyers

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
Award-winning archery champ shoots with his teeth

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6 | Gallery

Survivors keep busy as Boston Marathon approaches

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

 
.

Business

Why high oil prices are actually good for airlines

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

 
US delays review of contentious Keystone pipeline

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

Subscription sample boxes shake up beauty routines

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Girls from modest families get lift in technology

By The Associated Press | From Page: B12

Haunted house part of San Antonio apartment lofts

By The Associated Press | From Page: B13

 
Recalls this week: lanterns, exercise devices

By The Associated Press | From Page: B13

Review: Siri-like Cortana fills Windows phone gap

By The Associated Press | From Page: B14

 
.

Obituaries

Sealwyn Shirley Brucefield Shepherd Malkiewicz

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Margaret Elizabeth Silva

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

Lloyd G. Hoffmeister

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Ramon Isidro

By Adrienne Harris | From Page: A4

Rogelio Tinoco-Zamudio

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

 
James Leroy Barbour

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

William Paul Wehrly

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
.

Comics