Former Portland State basketball/football star Julius Thomas made his mark in the NFL's season-opener on Thursday, catching two first-half touchdowns on his way to five catches for 110 yards for the Denver Broncos. Thomas was making his first career start at tight end, and had just one previous career catch.
Thomas was selected in the fourth round of the 2011 National Football League draft by Denver, making him the highest-selected Viking since quarterback Neil Lomax was picked in the second round by the St. Louis Cardinals in 1980.
Thomas has seen limited action in his first two seasons due to inexperience and injuries, but appears to be an important player for the Broncos as he started the season opener. In fact, Peyton Manning's first pass of the season went to Thomas. He had his hands on it momentarily but it was dislodged on a big hit by a Baltimore Ravens defensive back.
Thomas, who made his name as a basketball player over four years at Portland State, got the most out of one season of football for the Vikings. After not playing the game since his freshman year of high school, Thomas played the 2010 season at PSU, earning a prominent role as a tight end.
In his only season on the gridiron, the 6-5, 255-pound Thomas caught 29 passes for 453 yards and two touchdowns. He was named first team All-Big Sky Conference. Thomas caught the eye of NFL scouts early in the season with his raw athleticism, good hands, smarts and toughness. After the season, Thomas played in the East-West Shrine game, catching a touchdown pass and two-point conversion. He was also selected to participate in the NFL Combine in late February.
Julius Thomas' Portland State bio
TE • 6-5 • 255 • Stockton, CA (Tokay HS)
A four-year letterwinner in basketball, he walked on with the football team in spring 2010… so impressed the coaching staff that he became a primary offensive weapon in 2010... excellent size and athleticism… outstanding speed as a tight end, he spent a lot of time split wide in the formation… played one season of football in high school before focusing on his basketball career… that resulted in a full basketball scholarship at Portland State.
PORTLAND STATE FOOTBALL CAREER • 2010
Played in all 11 games for the Vikings in his first football action since his freshman year in high school… caught 29 passes for 453 yards and two touchdowns in a run-heavy offense… named first team All-Big Sky Conference at the end of the season… also proved to be an excellent blocker despite his relative inexperience and lack of bulk… became an avid film watcher in the coaches offices to improve his game… opened his career with two catches for 20 yards at Arizona State (9/4)… had four receptions for 48 yards against Oregon (9/18)… caught two passes for 56 yards in the win over Idaho State (10/2)… had seven receptions for 143 yards and a 55-yard touchdown against Big Sky Champion Montana State (10/9)… made four receptions for 102 yards and a 39-yard touchdown at Weber State (10/23)… three catches for 38 yards against Northern Colorado… played in the East-West Shrine Game, catching a touchdown pass and two-point conversion… also participated in the NFL Combine.
PORTLAND STATE BASKETBALL CAREER
Familiar to Viking fans for a different reason - he starred on the Viking basketball team for four seasons... set school records for career games played (121), career wins (78), career field goals percentage (.663)... also participated on two Big Sky Champion teams and two NCAA Tournaments (2008 and 2009)... twice named to the Big Sky All-Tournament team... made game-winning dunk with 3.5 seconds left to play in beating Montana State for the 2009 Big Sky Tournament Championship... averaged 10.8 points, 5.9 rebounds and and shot a school-record .671 from the field as a senior.