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Ken Sugiura

Former Tech assistant remembers Demaryius Thomas

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Denver Broncos wide receiver Demaryius Thomas could play a starring role in Sunday’s Super Bowl. He has already earned a second Pro Bowl berth by catching 92 passes for 1,430 yards and 14 touchdowns. His duel with Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman is one of the most anticipated matchups of Sunday’s game.

Before reaching the game’s brightest stage, however, he was once merely a promising freshman at Georgia Tech. Buddy Geis, Tech’s wide receivers coach for coach Chan Gailey, remembered.

“You knew he was a great athlete,” Geis said. “I remember when he first came to campus, he was over playing basketball. … When he leaped, he kept going up and he’s hanging up there and does a 360 and then slammed the ball like it was nothing.”

Geis coached Thomas for two seasons, his true freshman year in 2006 and his redshirt season in 2007 when he started 10 games and caught 35 passes, a precursor to his standout seasons in 2008 and 2009.

“Everything he did was so fluid and easy,” Geis said.

Beyond that, Geis recalled Thomas’ eagerness to soak up coaching on the practice field and in position meetings. It was the combination of his talent and his willingness to push himself that set Thomas apart, Geis said.

Said Geis, “You know certain guys are going to make it.”

As Geis saw it, Thomas was driven in part by a desire to match the standard set by his 2006 teammate, Calvin Johnson. It is mindboggling to think that arguably the game’s two best wide receivers were both in the same position group at Tech in 2006, sharing drills and meetings.

“Here’s this kid (Johnson) with this overflowing talent, and he’s your hardest worker,” Geis said. “You just shake your head. So ‘Bay-Bay’ said, ‘I’m going to be that good. If not, I’m going to be better than him.’”

Geis now lives in Neptune Beach, Fla., and keeps busy with private coaching. He is working with draft hopefuls like former Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray and North Carolina tight end Eric Ebron, among others.

They’ll have a hard time matching the greatness achieved by his two star pupils at Tech.

Geis coached nine years in the NFL and 19 in Division I along with time spent in the CFL and USFL and, he said, “all of the sudden I’m at Georgia Tech. These two young kids walk in and you say, ‘Holy (moley).’ And, when it’s all said and done, you say, ‘I might have coached the two best kids I’ve ever had.’”

By Sunday night, one of them could be on top of the football world.

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