Peyton Manning is launching a new scholarship fund to honor former Denver Broncos teammate Demaryius Thomas.
Manning launched the Demaryius Thomas Scholarship Endowment through his foundation on Wednesday, which will provide both full or partial scholarships to students attending Georgia Tech — where Thomas went to school. The academic scholarships will be awarded to incoming freshmen from Laurens County, Georgia, where Thomas grew up.
Thomas died in December. He was 33.
“Demaryius Thomas was an incredibly talented and unselfish teammate, but more importantly, he was a special person and friend,” Manning said. “My family and I miss him dearly, and we wanted to honor D.T.’s memory by partnering the PeyBack Foundation with Georgia Tech to establish the Demaryius A. Thomas Scholarship Endowment.
“An important part of Demaryius’ legacy was the way he inspired the next generation to pursue their dreams with the same perseverance and determination that defined him. Through this scholarship to Georgia Tech, Demaryius will have a lasting impact on deserving youth from his hometown area who can follow in his footsteps and accomplish great things in life.”
Thomas spent three seasons with the Yellow Jackets, and was then selected with the No. 22 overall pick in 2010. He spent nearly a decade in the NFL, almost exclusively with the Broncos.
He shined alongside Manning in Denver, too. Thomas recorded more than 1,300 yards and six touchdowns during their Super Bowl run in 2015 — which marked the fourth of five straight 1,000-yard seasons.
Thomas is second in receiving yards in Broncos history and third in catches.
The Thomas scholarship will be recognized each year on Aug. 8, to honor Thomas’ number at Georgia Tech. That day will also be “Demaryius Thomas Day” each year, and the Yellow Jackets are planning to wear a No. 8 decal on their jersey next season.
“We are grateful to Peyton and Ashley Manning and the PeyBack Foundation for establishing the Demaryius Thomas Scholarship,” Georgia Tech athletic director Todd Stansbury said in a statement. “Thanks to their generous contribution, Demaryius’ legacy will be carried on through Georgia Tech students from Laurens County and surrounding areas for years to come and his memory will be celebrated each year during our 8/8 Day recognitions.”