On Aug. 8, a day that Georgia Tech has established as Demaryius Thomas Day in a nod to his collegiate and professional jersey numbers, the institution held a ceremony to honor his life and legacy.
Pro Football Hall of Famer and former Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning was among those to speak in Thomas' honor, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Ken Sugiura.
"With the Broncos, [Thomas] was the most unselfish teammate I ever played with," Manning said. "He always put the team before himself. Off the field, he was a caring, giving and gentle old soul. He was a hero to my kids like he was for so many others, and he made a tremendous impact in communities here in Georgia and in Colorado."
Sugiura noted that following the ceremony, Manning, Thomas' parents and his Georgia Tech teammate Morgan Burnett unveiled a "DT8" logo between the 20- and 30- yard lines of the field at Bobby Dodd Stadium.
"This is a bittersweet day," Manning said. "We are so appreciative of Georgia Tech making this all happen, but we miss him, and we'll never stop missing him."
Manning and his wife, Ashley, created a scholarship that helps students from Laurens County attend Georgia Tech, just like Thomas.
Per Sugiura, Thomas' jersey number will be given "to players who exemplify Thomas' character" at Georgia Tech. This season, two Yellow Jackets will wear No. 8 in honor of Thomas: wide receiver Nate McCollum and defensive tackle Makius Scott.
"I'm proud those two are the ones that are going to be able to represent him in the white and gold," Georgia Tech Head Coach Geoff Collins said.
Below the Fold
There are a number of players in the NFL who consistently perform at a high level but don't always get the recognition they deserve. With this in mind, NFL Network’s Cynthia Frelund compiled a list of the top 10 most underrated players in the NFL.
Frelund ranked Justin Simmons No. 8 on her list, pointing to multiple stats that put him in the upper echelon of NFL safeties.
"Simmons had a career year in 2019 and received the franchise tag a couple times before finally getting a long-term deal last year, but I feel like we don't see a ton of lists that show he's continuing to perform at an elite level," Frelund wrote. "Well, he has indeed, ranking among the top five safeties in win share in each of the past three seasons and third overall at the position in that time period. Simmons has recorded at least 20 defensive stops in each of the past three seasons, per PFF. That is a solid number of stops for a safety to amass. The main reason he's on this list, though, is that computer vision shows he's been the second-best safety in coverage over the past three seasons."